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Outside experts needed for change, says Chief Minister

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THE Chief Minister has defended the States’ employment of interim consultants, saying it is necessary ‘to bring in outside expertise to spearhead much-needed change and transfer those skills to our future leaders’.

Chief Minister John Le Fondre Picture: ROB CURRIE. (24399614)

In a letter, Senator John Le Fondré said that he was ‘impressed’ with chief executive Charlie Parker’s work to date in reorganising the public sector, although he added that there were still areas in which he believed Mr Parker could and would improve.

He also emphasised that minsters and officials were ‘addressing significant inefficiencies caused by outdated systems and processes’, and that it was necessary to ‘wait for real improvement’.

Replying to a JEP editorial on the granting of a fixed-term contract to interim consultant Camilla Black, 18 months after she was taken on at a fee of £1,350 a day, Senator Le Fondré said that such appointments were necessary ‘to spearhead much-needed change’.

‘You challenge the value of interim appointments, but fail to acknowledge that where there are skills gaps, caused by historic underinvestment, we need to bring in outside expertise to spearhead much-needed change and transfer those skills to our future leaders,’ he said.

‘We are putting the succession planning processes in place to ensure that the next generation of leaders are drawn from our pool of talented staff. The chief executive has also repeatedly said he expects the majority of interims to have left employment by the end of the year.’

In his message, Senator Le Fondré also responded to the JEP’s questions on how politicians and senior civil servants could justify such high fees at a time when frontline States employees had been striking over pay.

When asked whether the letter, which characterises last week’s coverage as ‘inflammatory’ and ‘willingly ignorant’, was his own work, Senator Le Fondré said that he had in fact asked officials to write it for him, but that he stands by its content.

‘The tone and style of the front page article on Saturday, and the editorial on Monday, caused me significant concern,’ he said. ‘While I fully recognise and respect the independent nature of the JEP, to me the article and leader made no attempt to seek out, or inform on, the context for the issues being reported.

‘I discussed these concerns with officers and asked for a response to be drafted. All ministers receive support from officials, as required, with their paperwork.

‘I provided the brief, then reviewed, edited and finalised the draft before it was sent to the editor. I stand by the content of my letter.’

Sam Le

By Sam Le
Journalist

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