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New Chief Minister 14 December 2004

Donald Gelling MLC has today (Tuesday, December 14, 2004) been elected by Tynwald as the new Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, returning as leader of the Manx Government following the resignation of Richard Corkill MHK.

Mr Gelling (66) has been a Member of Tynwald since 1986 and was Treasury Minister from 1989 until 1996. He was Chief Minister from 1996 until 2001, when he decided not to seek re-appointment after completing his five-year term of office.

Since 2001 Mr Gelling has been a member of the Treasury Department and political head of Isle of Man Finance, the arm of Treasury responsible for promoting the Island's financial services industry.

Mr Gelling said:

"In the past 18 years the economy of our Island has improved considerably. Many new jobs have been created in financial services, manufacturing and other industries. The effect of this has been to reduce our rate of unemployment from 12% in 1986 to currently 1.1%.

"I do not seek drastic change in the basic policies of Government and Tynwald. We need cool heads and clear eyes to refocus on the priorities that matter to the Island's people - such as employment, housing, health services, education, community safety, and the environment. Underlying all these is the importance of a successful economy.

"We need a period of calm but not complacency. I personally do not doubt the integrity of our system of Government and the ability of Tynwald to scrutinise the executive and hold it to public account. However, concerns and negative perceptions have arisen in recent times, both on and off the Island.

"To address any concerns about our system and culture of Government, I would like to see a renewed emphasis on existing initiatives in such areas as corporate governance and freedom of information. It is essential that we discuss these issues and reach a clear understanding of the proper extent of government transparency, for example, taking into account international standards and the position in other modern democracies.

"Those of us who live and work on the Isle of Man know that its people and its Government are straight-talking and honest, but we have been through a bruising time. That should not detract from the fact that the Isle of Man is a strong success story in economic terms. We are a business friendly Island, determined to maintain high ethical standards in economic, political and administrative affairs.

"My priorities are to ensure continuity of economic success coupled with confidence in standards in the Isle of Man, both here on the Island and internationally."

Mr Gelling was elected Chief Minister in Tynwald with 31 votes in favour and two against.

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