2 May 2019
Three years has come round really quickly for me as the Governor of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. A lot has happened in those three years. The ones that first come to my mind are the big changes, such as the air service starting to St Helena and Ascension, the RMS sailing for her last time, managing to get the funding for a fibre optic cable to St Helena, opening the SHG-funded hotel, deciding that St Helena will run its electricity entirely from wind and sun within the next few years, and agreeing a Marine Protected Area for St Helena and Ascension. On Tristan da Cunha a new health facility was also finished.
But there have been changes to the fabric of society which has meant more equality for everyone. Now, throughout the territory, if you want to marry the person you love, you can, no matter what sex you are. On St Helena, if you are a victim of emotional or violent domestic abuse, the law can protect you and there is a refuge where you can be safe. Women have spoken out and harassment is increasingly not tolerated. Juries have convicted. And the poorest in St Helenian society are protected from the impact of the rising prices of the basic necessities of life.
People say nothing changes on St Helena. I say take a look around. People also ask me what I’ve done for the Island. There’s a misconception that the Governor is all powerful. Not so. Apart from a few exceptions, it’s your Elected Members who take the decisions. The future of St Helena is in your hands, not mine.
But where I am proud to have made my mark is that I have pursued a theme of ‘openness’. I have opened up the workings of government and now a lot more papers are published, meetings are open and views from the public are sought. The reason I’ve done that is I believe that if government is more open, the public can have more trust in them and they can hold them accountable for their promises. I realise the man or woman on the street doesn’t want to wade through loads of paperwork from SHG where proposals are made and decisions taken. But this is where the media could broker the information much more for you. Going forward, I encourage them to do that.
Continuing the theme of openness, I’ve opened up Plantation House and made it a House that works for you. It has been used for business, to recognise achievements, as a tourist attraction, as a charity fundraiser, and more recently, as a wedding venue. It is a beautiful asset for the Island and it is yours. I’ve opened up the Governor’s role through my Social Media account dispelling at least one little girl called Erin’s belief that I ‘sit in the House and count my money all day’. I have tried to be a Governor for the 21st Century. Yes, the first woman Governor for the territory, but someone who also wants to hear from as many St Helenians as possible. I have tried to bring the Governor and the government closer to the people it serves. Whether I’ve succeeded or not, only history (or John Turner’s website) will tell.
What is absolutely certain, I have always had the territory’s best interests at heart. In particular, I have believed, and will continue to believe, in St Helena and her future. But St Helena and St Helenians need to also believe in their future. After all, if you don’t, nobody will. Good bye and thank you!
Governor Lisa Honan
2 May 2019