Females dominate leadership roles in both House of Assembly, Senate

PATRICIA DEVEAUX, Speaker of the House of Assembly

History was made in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on Wednesday, October 6, as for the first time, two females were elected for the leadership roles in both the Upper and Lower Chambers of Parliament.

In the Senate, Senator Julie Lashell Adderley was named President, while Member of Parliament for Bamboo Town Patricia Deveaux was named Speaker in the House of Assembly.

Deveaux expressed her gratitude to the Bahamian people for the opportunity to serve in such a capacity.

“I intend to protect the privileges of this House and of members, so that they can enjoy almost untethered freedom to speak on behalf of Bahamians. I caution you, not to abuse these rights. We cannot afford any slippage in any of those areas if we intend to advance the institution,” Deveaux told Parliamentarians in her remarks during the opening of Parliament.

“Members, I have come to discover across the Commonwealth nations that there is a Speaker’s tradition of being fair to minorities. A tradition that holds steadfast to the notion that we are all equal and the equality of our voices through collective responsibilities can revive, redirect and rebuild a robust and responsible parliament.

“Recognizing the fundamental ideals associated with corporate governance, as speaker, I intend to maintain this ancient tradition. It is my hope, that notwithstanding our partisan opinions, this parliament will create better relations with each other, while tabling the affairs of the people, in order to create progressive and transforming recommendations, which will ultimately enhance legislative change.”

She continued: “The business of this house will be conducted in an atmosphere of respect. I charge all members to be courteous and respectful to the chair. I charge members to also be courteous and respectful to each other in the conduct of your debates.

“Honorable members, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague our nation, we owe a great debt to many who are not here; many who did not live to see the sun rise on this new day. Therefore, it is our solemn duty to press forward.”

Parliamentarians must press forward with a determined zeal, to continue the progress that the parliament initiated when it was first convened in 1729, she added.

“That was never broken, from this very chair. Their voices have all charged parliamentarians to deliver security, prosperity and to recognize the abiding respect for the rule for our common humanity. From the depths of the greatest health crisis of our time, we must coordinate our response to avoid further catastrophe in the hope of steering our country, in a direction to heal our nation.

“This is important work; this is the good work that we were elected to do. Therefore, let us press forward and not backward; upward with the confidence of creating bipartisan relations; onward to a firm belief that human dignity is the greatest respect that we can afford our fellow constituents; together, holding hands, acknowledging that as imperfect as we are, we were made imperfectly perfect through our collective uniqueness,” stated the Speaker of the House.  

Deputy Speaker of the House, Member of Parliament for North Eleuthera, Sylvanus Petty also brought remarks on the historic day.

“It is truly a new day. Although I am a man of very few words, I am humbled and honored. Thank you for the privilege of addressing such a high level and distinguished audience.

“It is with great pleasure that I accept this post as the Deputy Speaker of the House. I will do my endeavor best to make sure that order is kept. I warn you members, be careful. We are here to do the people’s work. We have to take the chips off of our shoulders; it is not yellow, it is not red, it is not green. It is time to put the Bahamian people back into this parliament and make this a truly honorable house.

“I will do my best to make sure that order is kept in this distinguished house and be fair to all individuals involved. I look forward to being your humble servant and may God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” concluded Petty. 

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