Deputy Premier Dr Kedrick Pickering, who yesterday described himself as Premier Dr D Orlando Smith’s number-one supporter for more than two decades, has come to defence of Melvin Turnbull who publicly questioned the Premier’s leadership last week.
Turnbull’s action did not sit well with senior government ministers such as Myron Walwyn who blasted him for speaking out against Premier Smith.
However, a no-nonsense Dr Pickering yesterday backed Turnbull for ‘doing the right thing’ and chastised the ministers who he said ‘attacked’ the backbencher for speaking out against the Premier.
“I sat here the other night and listened to the attack on one of my colleagues sitting on the back bench… I strongly detest and disagree with that kind of behaviour [from the other ministers],” Dr Pickering said.
“Every member in this House has a right to speak clearly and succinctly without anyone of us having to attack them. And the member for the Second District (Turnbull) is no exception and I want to say publicly that I support the member for standing up in this House and speaking his mind. Debate in the House is the bedrock of parliamentary democracy and we must never try to silence any member,” Dr Pickering added.
Statement against Premier needed to be said
The Deputy Premier further said that Turnbull has a duty to speak up if he feels Cabinet ministers are not performing well, adding that those said ministers need to be ‘kept in line’.
And while noting that all members of the House of Assembly are equals, Dr Pickering also made it clear that it was not disrespectful for Turnbull to speak his mind as an elected representative.
“Furthermore, the things that the Honourable member was speaking about are things that probably needed to be said. It is not like he said anything out of turn… I don’t necessarily agree with the way he might have said what he said,” Dr Pickering noted.
Pickering added that he would not have supported the backbencher if he (Turnbull) had disrespected Dr Smith.
“If this country has a future, that future lies with people like the Honourable Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull and the Honourable Marlon Penn – two of the younger serving members in this House… It would be remiss of them to come and fall in line. If the system needs shaking up, they have a responsibility to shake it up,” added Pickering.
Turnbull had criticized the Premier in the House of Assembly last week, stating that the finance portfolio should be taken from Premier Smith and given to another minister, Ronnie Skelton.
Turnbull’s statement was part of a wider public feud between him and the Premier over the last two weeks.
However, Dr Pickering said yesterday that Turnbull and Premier Smith have settled their differences privately.
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