Mac calls for HRC chair to be sacked

| 08/04/2019 | 128 Comments
Cayman News Service

McKeeva Bush in the LA, 5 April 2019

(CNS): The fallout from the chief justice’s ruling legalising same-sex marriage continued in the Legislative Assembly Friday, when Speaker McKeeva Bush accused the chair of the Human Rights Commission of contempt regarding a press release from the HRC released Thursday. Bush said James Austin-Smith should be fired because he is an atheist. Following on from Thursday’s criticisms of the HRC chair by the East End member over the press release from the commission about the appeal, Bush continued to attack Austin-Smith and called for an apology from him.

Bush said that Austin-Smith had “declared his stand against God” and the church as well as Cayman’s laws and “his disgust against members”. The speaker also suggested that having an atheist as the chair of the HRC presented a conflict.

In the wake of the remarks Austin-Smith told CNS that he would not be commenting about the situation at this point but that this was not the first time he has had to endure the condemnation of some elected officials over his advocacy for the Bill of Rights.

Austin-Smith has been on the Human Rights Commission for five years. He was appointed as chairman in January and his tenure comes to an end on 31 May this year. Since taking up the position he has dealt with a number of issues that brought him into conflict with government.

But he has earned the greatest condemnation by elected members for his advocacy for the LGBT community and the need for government to end the discrimination, particularly regarding marriage equality.

During his comments from the speaker’s chair about the press release from the HRC, Bush noted that Austin-Smith had questioned the wisdom of the government’s decision to appeal the chief justice’s ruling on same-sex marriage, saying this was an insult to the Legislative Assembly.

The morning began with the members continuing to focus on demonstrating their religious credentials, and Bush made his statement following the education minister’s additional preaching to the members after the usual morning prayers. The issue of the legalisation of same-sex marriage continued to dominate the minds of the country’s leaders and the business of the parliament.

Bush accused Austin-Smith of being in deliberate contempt of the LA, as he questioned whether the entire commission has supported the content of the statement issued last week, which he said was a “flagrant and wanton abuse of office”.

Bush said he believed that Austin-Smith had not only overstepped the boundaries of his role but he had prejudiced the appeal that government is intent on making against the chief justice’s ruling, which was delivered just ten days ago.

See the Speaker’s comments on CIGTV below

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (128)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Sorry but this statement “Bush said James Austin-Smith should be fired because he is an atheist.” – is the most discriminating statement ever.
    I have to take James Austin-Smith’s side here as he seems to make more sense to be by protecting the dignity and the people’s human rights.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I always said voting for these people is a waste of time and money. They are only puppets on a string fooling the caymanians with smoke and mirrors. It should be clear now for caymanians to see beyond the lies and false promises the government makes to the people. Who really has the power to make decisions for the interests of the people ??. Surely not the elected government.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Agree with you mr. speaker

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree one thousand percent with the speaker of the house. He is bold enough to speak out on our behalf. Respect the Hon. Speaker.

  5. Two Cents says:

    Over the past 5 years, James Austin-Smith has presided over about 9 meetings per year. For doing so, he has been paid at the rate of probably $200 per meeting, or less than $2,000 per annum.
    I am sure that he has spent many, many more hours outside of those meetings dealing with HRC matters. In doing so, he has sacrificed the opportunity to be doing his firm’s work and earning hundreds of dollars per hour.
    I’m also sure that Mr Austin-Smith didn’t ‘seek’ this role – he didn’t campaign for it, he didn’t ask anyone to try to help him get it. He was asked if he would do it; he agreed to offer his time and knowledge for the benefit of these islands. And he’s likely looking forward to when his tenure is over.
    This is the thanks he gets from the elected representatives of these islands, all of whom worked their tails off to get their jobs, and dread ever losing them.
    And the thanks is delivered by McKeeva who earns about $175,000 per annum, collects a pension of over $100,000 per annum (that’s over a quarter million dollars a year ‘take home’ pay) and is bestowed with a driver who costs the public $60-75,000 per annum and a vehicle which costs another $15,000 per annum.
    A $350,000 per year messenger disrespecting a $2,000 per year volunteer!


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