Swearing in Speech - Augustus Jaspert
22 August 2017, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Honourable Premier, Your Ladyship Honourable Madame Justice Ellis, Honourable Deputy Premier, Honourable Ministers, Madame Deputy Governor, Honourable Leader of the Opposition, other Honourable Members of the House of Assembly, Members of the Clergy, distinguished guests – good morning.
Firstly, thank you Honourable Premier and Honourable Leader of the Loyal Opposition for your warm words of welcome.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank in particular Madame Deputy Governor and Dr Robert Mathavious for assuming the role of Acting Governor over the past two weeks at what has been a particularly difficult time for the Virgin Islands.
It is truly an honour and privilege to have been appointed by Her Majesty as her representative and to be sworn in as Governor of the Virgin Islands. My driving goal from this day on is to serve the best interests of all of the people of these magnificent islands. I am grateful already for the warm wishes of support to myself, my wife Millie, and my two boys as we arrive and we look forward to getting to know all of the communities across the Virgin Islands. Islands that our family now call home.
Yesterday, after I arrived I took a tour of Tortola to get a sense of the damage caused by the tropical wave which impacted so badly on the Territory 2 weeks ago. It is clear that the damage caused has been extensive, to individuals, properties, business and the infrastructure. My heart and prayers go out to all those affected. It is a credit to everybody involved how quickly the islands are recovering. The fact that under the Premier’s guidance, electricity and water were restored to so many so quickly is a remarkable testimony to the resilience of the residents of the Virgin Islands. I have heard and seen how hard and tirelessly the emergency services, community organisations, private companies and individuals and of course Government agencies have worked and continue to work - to steal the words of the Premier “to return this part of Paradise to its normal state.”
Despite the impacts of the storm, as I flew in yesterday, it was easy to see how blessed the Virgin Islands are. The natural beauty of these islands is world beating, and, from what I have heard and from those I have met already, I know these islands have a people as fantastic as the nature that surrounds them.
The Virgin Islands have so much to be proud of in their history. These are small islands that have a global impact. The hard work, entrepreneurial spirit and welcoming nature of the Virgin Islanders shines through. There have though been other challenging times recently. Of rapid change globally, and an international spotlight on the Virgin Islands as an international financial centre. The Virgin Islands has demonstrated the importance of taking pride in effective regulation; and the importance of the underpinnings of good governance.
You have built a strong foundation for the future of prosperous and thriving communities and I aim to work together towards an even brighter future. That future needs to be shaped by the desires of those who live here and who know their own aspirations. My role is not to direct these, but to engage with all parts of the community to listen, to hear the hopes, aspirations, dreams and also the challenges and problems and to work together to find ways to tackle these.
I see the role of Governor as one of service and partnership. A service dedicated to bettering the lives of all who live in these islands; and to creating a secure and prosperous future for the young and future generations. A partnership that works with the elected Government, the public services, community and faith organisations, businesses and most importantly, the people who live here.
The role of the United Kingdom is also of partnership. A modern partnership that helps and supports the Virgin Islands. A partnership based on respect and that helps ensure the underpinnings of success – good governance, security and prosperity.
I have worked in different areas of public service all my life. Throughout all of it, I am driven by making a difference to improve people’s lives. Whether that was working in children’s services to support the most vulnerable families in society; working to tackle crime, the harms of illegal drugs and to ensure people feel secure in their communities; or working with the British Prime Minister at a national level helping to create the conditions for vibrant business and strong, united communities that can overcome challenges they face.
I have learnt that prosperity, united communities and safe neighbourhoods are like a three legged stool. They are not binary choices, but are all critical parts of a flourishing society. Here, good regulation and the right level of transparency underpin a world respected financial sector that drives prosperity. Care for the natural environment, the right infrastructure and a reputation as a safe destination underpin thriving tourism. Good public services and communities that all share a stake in the future of the islands ensure people live free of the fear of crime and the vulnerable and young are supported. And communities that value and respect each other and celebrate diversity as a strength create stronger neighbourhoods. And the seat of the three legged stool, holding together all of the above, is good governance – with transparent Government, leadership and public services, in which people have confidence we are always acting in their best interests.
My commitment as Governor is to serve and to work in partnership to make the Virgin Islands an even better place. An even more prosperous, safe, and well governed place. A place that is valued for the important part it plays internationally. And a place that creates even greater potential for its future, in particular through its young people as the future generation. I will serve with integrity, fairness and impartiality. I want to be approachable and part of the community and will listen to all views and want to support the institutions of these islands to own and tackle any challenges. I will be engaged, but will not shy away from acting where the values of fairness, security and good governance are not at the highest standards. As a people of such talent and strengths, these islands should rightly expect the highest standards.
It is though with humility that I approach my task ahead. I am conscious that my priority is to learn and to listen. I intend to visit as many of the islands and connect with as many people as possible to hear your perspectives and views. I hope that you will find that my ears as Governor are always open.
Honourable guests, let me conclude be re-iterating that my goal here is to serve Her Majesty for the people of the Virgin Islands. To serve in your best interests, to ensure excellent governance, security and prosperity for now and for the future, and to serve in a real partnership – with the elected government, the public services, the United Kingdom, the faith, voluntary and community organisations that do so much good, and most importantly with the people of these islands.
The Territory has so, so much to be proud of. And I take extreme pride in now being part of these islands.
I believe that we who occupy positions under the Constitution, whether elected or non-elected; whether we are here for a season or a lifetime, serve as guardians of the best interests of those whom we serve. I hope that you will come to view me as a true friend of the Virgin Islands.
Thank you for your attention and may God bless the Virgin Islands and all who live here.