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Opinion & Analysis

On October 12, it’s your decision

By Pat Orfila

I am Patricia Orfila – everyone calls me Pat. I am a mother to Cathy, a retired teacher, and a dedicated public servant. Life is all about the decisions we make.

I was raised, with my brothers, by my mother in a flat on Lime Kiln Road. When our father abandoned our family when I was 11 and my brothers were 9 and 2, my mother made the decision that her circumstances would not define her life or that of her family. It was this decision and watching my mother’s hard work and commitment to us that instilled the values of honest hard work and perseverance in me.

In 2009 I joined the GSLP, encouraged by my late mother (and best friend!). In 2011 I was elected to the executive of the party. I have spent my time since helping as many people as I’ve been able to, mainly in housing matters.

Education and housing are, therefore, my ‘thing’ in politics.

My education was set against the backdrop of the 11+ exams and Grammar School. If you didn’t get into Grammar School, you wouldn’t go on to further education. Then there was the points system - if you didn’t score the points you didn’t get funding either! I was one of those who managed to make it through to university, but many of my peers didn’t.

Life is about the decisions we make, yes, but also about the decisions others make when they are given the responsibility and the privilege of leading this community. Reflecting on our story, it is clear to me that one of the most consequential decisions in our political history was the abolition of the points system in 1988. Suddenly, overnight, everyone who had a place in university obtained funding. This decision was the basis for the creation of the incredible Gibraltarian community we are today. Thousands of our children headed off to university to experience a new life, away from home – they got ‘la mundologia’ yes, but also the connections, the network they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Those children are today’s leaders, in all fields – education, politics, finance, business, health – Gibraltar is what it is today and punches above its weight largely because of that one decision, 35 years ago. Then, in 2011, it was your decision, the decision of the voters, that brought the second Government of the GSLP/Liberals to office, and with it the second transformation in education in Gibraltar. The nature of schooling today, in the amazing new schools, all 10 of them, that have been built in the last ten years, is unrecognisable to anyone who was in education as recently as 2011.

We have plans for even more schools and other improvements, all of which are in the manifesto we are shortly to publish. We will build and renovate more schools, establish a careers’ advisory service, develop mental health support strategies for students, re-start school meals. We will be supporting students, teachers and support staff – all stakeholders in education will enjoy the benefit of a commitment to making things better for all of us – oh and we are not letting Llanito die either!

It’s no different in Housing - it's hard to describe in the limited words of this article the full extent of the impact on Housing the GSLP Liberal Government has had in the last 12 years. Remember too, the 88-96 project - the reclamation and everything that has been built there. In the last 12 years alone there has been a simply unprecedented and incredible investment in Housing of all varieties. On this front, we have so much more to offer – not just more affordable housing: the right number of rental stock units to finally wipe the waiting lists clean, and innovative solutions like affordable housing for pensioners too. We are getting the job done.

Gibraltar hasn’t come this far to ONLY come this far. We are leaving no one behind. We have the commitment, and conviction to get the job done. On 12 October, vote for all ten GSLP Liberal candidates. Vision, vitality and continued prosperity - our commitment for getting the job done and to Keep Gibraltar Safe.

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