Lawrence Scott and Dr Ernest Peets were chopped from Cabinet, as Premier David Burt reasserted himself following his recent confirmation as leader of the ruling Progressive Labour Party (PLP).
Mr Scott was relieved of his post as Minister of Transport and replaced by Mr Wayne Furbert, who transferred from his previous post as Minster to the Cabinet, while Senator Owen Darrell took over Dr Peets’ dual positions as Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport and Senate Leader.
Several observers suggested that Mr Scott’s position became shaky once rumour of his intention to challenge the PLP’s Deputy Leader and Home Affairs Minister Walter Roban for the former position became public. And, despite the fact that he, ultimately, did not put his name forward, the die was cast toward his ouster.
The Premier though denied such to have had any effect on the moves made to restructure a Cabinet that now has one less member, with Tourism Minister Vance Campbell having taken on Mr Furbert’s former remit.
“That’s nonsense,” said Mr Burt to the suggestion of the firing of Mr Scott being made in retaliation. “He did not make a challenge.
“That’s not something I take into account when it comes to adjusting the Cabinet. That is a question I was asked by another member of the media and that is not correct.
“I’ve known Lawrence for a very long time. Lawrence and I went to high school together. Lawrence and I flew planes together. We’ve had a very long relationship, so from that perspective those aren’t the things that factor in.
“There’s a lot of different decisions that go into the Cabinet adjustments we had to make. I had to keep in mind the reality that we have a very large Cabinet and the challenges that we have in trying to redirect funds, so that we can have those in the most appropriate places, while balancing the act that we have the largest parliamentary group.
As to whether more changes might beckon the Premier said: “We’ll go ahead and look at changes as they come. The fact is that we have the largest parliamentary group in the history of the Progressive Labour Party, so there’s always a balance that has to be struck in those areas. “But we’ve made some adjustments in those areas. We acknowledge those that are no longer in Cabinet. We appreciate the great work they’ve done and certainly the adjustments, but they both are prepared to serve the Government in different ways and I’m grateful for that.
“These decisions are never easy. One of the most difficult conversations a leader has to have is in making adjustments to the Cabinet.”
Perhaps of particular pleasure for Mr Burt was the appointment of Mr Darrell to the dual postings, with the latter having been mentored while serving as Mr Burt’s personal aide to the country’s Parliamentary head.
“I look forward to serving with the new Minister,” said Mr Burt. “Everyone knows that he has served me directly for five years as Chief-of-Staff — he’ll probably no longer serve as Chief-of-Staff — a very demanding position and he’s decided to make the financial sacrifice to move to a different role.
“So, from that perspective, I am grateful and look forward to his energy. Because I think he’s ideally suited to the role of Youth, Culture and Sport and, certainly, for the two years that he’s been in the Senate, I think that he’s gained experience and will be an effective Senate Leader for the Government’s agenda in the Senate.”
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