2017 has been an exciting year. The Progressive Labour Party received a clear mandate from the people of Bermuda to move forward with the agenda we laid out in our election platform. We made a bold start with our 100 day pledges, followed by the Throne Speech which laid out the government’s road map for the next year.

In this new year we will communicate more, listen more, and do more so we will continue to focus on our promise to build a better and fairer Bermuda for all Bermudians.

In the upcoming year, we will start to hear from the various committees that have been created as they share their findings and their recommendations. Over the next 12 months, we must tackle the core issue of a living wage and the high cost of living in Bermuda. We will address the needs of our seniors and education reform will remain a top priority.

As we work to grow and diversify our economy, we will provide greater opportunities for entrepreneurs and put in place training programs that will allow more Bermudians to improve their skills.

Growing and enhancing Bermuda’s tourism is also important. As a vacation destination, we must make our country even more welcoming as we continue to develop new and exciting experiences. Visitors that come to see us will know we are a fun and exciting destination to visit time and time again.

If I had only one New Year’s wish, it would be for us, as Bermudians, to focus on becoming a healthier community. We must become more conscious of what we eat and the importance of exercise. You will hear this message over and over as we will work to reduce diabetes and obesity in Bermuda and the government will lead by example.

Together we must find solutions that will reduce the devastating premature deaths in our society. Those deaths caused by gun violence and road traffic collisions. We need to be honest with each other and look out for our family, friends and neighbours. If you see a young person going down the wrong path, engage them to see how you can help them make better decisions.

Similarly, if your friend or loved one has been drinking, do not allow them to drive. We must work together to reduce premature deaths, and while we introduce random sobriety tests this year, we must change our collective mindset when it comes to impaired driving.

As we end 2017, I am reminded of a quote by car maker Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

Bermuda, I look forward to celebrating our strengths and successes in 2018, as we work together to build a better and fairer Bermuda. Happy New Year Bermuda.