Jersey's ministers have been slammed for trying to wreck a debate forcing the government to support local businesses, with a last-minute amendment.
Deputy Kirsten Morel launched a blistering attack on the Chief Minister and his colleagues in the States Assembly this afternoon, saying that they showed a lack of respect for other States Members.
Ministers gave less than two days notice of their proposed changes to Deputy Morel's call for the government to prioritise local traders. As a result, his proposition has been pushed back for another couple of weeks.
The Deputy’s proposals entitled ‘Putting Jersey businesses first’, suggested the Government should be held to a number of requirements ensuring that it's making investment in the local economy a priority.
But while his proposition aimed to put local suppliers, employing Jersey-based staff, ahead of suppliers based elsewhere, the Chief Minister published an amendment that made this an option rather than a requirement.
I'm very disappointed by the government's destructive amendment to my proposition to put Jersey businesses first. The government amendment was entirely destructive and won't do a single thing to help Jersey businesses, so I have had to defer my proposition.— Kirsten Morel (@KirstenJersey) June 2, 2020
Deputy Morel described the amendment as “destructive” saying it “won't do a single thing to help Jersey businesses”.
Introducing his amendment, the Chief Minister said “logistical issues” had prevented him from publishing his amendment before last Friday.
But Deputy Morel rejected this idea, saying he had difficulty believing it was an accident when the Chief Minister had previously published an amendment to Deputy Jess Perchard’s elimination strategy proposal on short notice, and suggested it “seemed to be a trend”.
He said he couldn’t accept a 1.5 day notice notice when the Government has thousands of civil servants, as well as Ministers and Assistant Ministers.
The Deputy said this was even more “galling” given that he, along with other States Members, has been working hard to help the Government get legislation through during the crisis.
“We have moved mountains for the government… is this how I am repaid?” he said.
The Deputy went on to say the Government lacked respect for individual States members, as well as Scrutiny members, whom he said have “always worked on the Government’s timetable”.
“I have had no time for negotiation, one and a half day is not enough to find a middle way,” Deputy Morel said.
He urged fellow members to “stand up” for themselves and request the Government to show respect for non-executive members.
“We all need to say enough is enough… The Government’s treatment of us must finish,” he added.
Pictured: Deputy Morel said States members and Scrutiny members have “always worked on the Government’s timetable”.
His comments were supported by several States Memmbers, including Deputy Steve Luce who said the Government seemed to have “a general expectation that they are going to be allowing anything and everything at a drop of a hat”.
He urged members to make a stand to show the Government it was not acceptable to publish amendments at the last minute.
Deputy Mike Jackson also criticised the Government saying that “last minute amendments are not good government”.
He suggested the mere fact the Government had failed to respond earlier, indicated they had “no interest in supporting local businesses and the local staff working for them”.
He urged members to get on with the debate of the proposition rather than the amendment.
Deputy Susie Pinel, the Treasury Minister, however suggested some parts of Deputy Morel’s proposals were not feasible.
Senator Lyndon Farnham said he understood Deputy Morel’s frustration but said the delay had been caused by other work going on.
He suggested deferring the proposition so that the Assembly would have more time to dedicate to it.
Deputy Rowland Huelin also suggested a deferral, pointing out that the proposals were not “time critical”.
Deputy @KirstenJersey has deferred his proposal on Putting Jersey businesses first to the next States Assembly sitting.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) June 2, 2020
Concluding the debate, the Chief Minister said he was disappointed with some of the questions made.
He noted that Deputy Perchard’s proposition had come through on a Thursday with the debate taking place the following Tuesday. He said the Government therefore had had no choice but publishing its amendment the day before.
He said the amendment was the reflection of a “constructive approach” he says has always been the style of Government in regards to propositions put forward by members.
The Assembly eventually agreed to debate the amendment and Deputy Morel asked to defer his proposal as a result.
It will now be debated on 16 June.
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