Embracing change with open arms
By Chris Clark, chairman of the Institute of Directors Jersey branch
For how long have writers to the JEP been critical of government? Time immemorial?
Even at the September IoD Debate the conclusion of IoD members in relation to ‘government effectiveness’ was stated succinctly, if sadly, as ‘inefficient and ineffective.’
Criticising government is a Jersey past-time, is it not? Yet I recently read a curious headline: ‘Scrutiny expresses concerns over ministerial proposals.’ The proposals were for a change, albeit fundamental, regarding ‘collective responsibility’ – to scrap the doctrine by which all ministers must vote en bloc.
You could see this as opening the door to party politics in the near future while at the same time delivering more power and responsibility to the States of Jersey’s chief executive, Charlie Parker.
So, to me, a layperson, this seems to be effectively driving what appears to be a ‘one government’ agenda. You know, one that works together to drive a positive service focus and delivery for Islanders, drive efficiency, working together, adopting a digital by default strategy, breaking down the acknowledged silo mentality even, all to drive a common purpose – ‘to build a modern government that is not only fit for the near term but one that is designed to be sustainable for the long term…’
Admittedly, some of the aforementioned are my interpretation of notes captured from the chief executive’s recent speech to the Chamber of Commerce but, to me, this all sounds remarkably like common sense.
We can understand why some, not necessarily Scrutiny, would be concerned. But when you consider that Mr Parker and his dream team have been appointed to, amongst other things, drive positive change and build a public pervice that is focused on Islanders rather than themselves, you have to have a (major) alarm bell ringing that, somehow, the proverbial can may once more be kicked down the road into the long grass.
Reading the JEP, the Scrutiny panel has called for the debate to be postponed to a later States sitting, as they feel the timing of the debate has been ‘rushed’, that such a significant change to the make-up of ministerial government should be properly reviewed, and that it is not appropriate for a government at the end of its term to make such a fundamental shift in policy which will affect the Assembly come May.
To me, this decision sounds like the type of legacy that our elected representatives should be grasping. Driving change, listening to the electorate and demonstrating a willingness to be effective and efficient.
Our Council of Ministers has an opportunity to empower the civil service to act like a coherent organisation, just like a major business. Why would you not embrace this change with open arms?
Stepping off the soap box for a minute (sorry for that impassioned plea for common sense!) I was recently invited to the ‘hot seat’ on the local radio station. We discussed many critical topics involving population, taxation, education and government effectiveness.
While discussing these topics I was asked a question about the upcoming election, namely, do businesses influence their staff regarding voting?
Personally, I don’t believe businesses advise people who to vote for, but what many do, and what every business owner in Jersey ought to do, is ensure that colleagues have the time and opportunity to attend hustings, be aware of local issues which could impact on the prosperity of the Island and make informed decisions come election day.
I would expect every employer to permit every colleague to vote, no matter what their chosen profession. Voter apathy and complacency will not enable the government or our Island to evolve, to embrace change, to understand real issues regarding migration, sexuality, discrimination, poverty, Island life, education, the rural economy, taxation and the protection of this beautiful Island.
All of these are diverse, often conflicting issues which a balanced Assembly can endeavour to champion to ensure our continued prosperity post-Brexit. Why would you not vote? That’s the question.