The Scrutineer who brought a vote of no confidence against the Chief Minister is now planning a probe into the extent of the powers granted to the island’s top civil servant.
Senator Kristina Moore says the way government works could be changed in the future to address issues that have arisen during the tenure of CEO Charlie Parker, who “agreed” to step down earlier this week following the row over his second job at a UK real estate firm.
While the Senator said she had other concerns about the Chief Minister's leadership, it was that row, as well as the perception of the “tail wagging the dog" and an alleged “culture of bullying” in the civil service, that triggered her decision to bring the 'no confidence' motion.
While the motion was ultimately defeated (29 to 19, with one abstention), the Senator told Express the day after the debate that this would not be the end of her mission to investigate and ultimately improve the power structures in the government, as well as the culture.
Pictured: Scrutiny will be investigating the power structures within, and culture of, government.
During the ‘no confidence’ debate, Education Minister Senator Tracey Vallois had called for a new States Employment Board sub-committee to be set up to examine HR policy in the wake of the New River controversy, and also sought clarity on who would have the final say on Mr Parker’s departure date.
The Chief Minister did not answer these questions, however.
“The issues around transparency and openness were raised during the debate and they were part of the reason for me bringing the vote of no-confidence and the failure to answer [Senator Vallois’] questions in my mind crystallises the reasons for bringing the vote in itself,” Senator Moore said.
She said that, going forward, it was clear that a “different style of leadership” was needed in.
“We have to build on the culture, we have to heal the organisation and look after those good, committed and capable people who are left in the organisation and move forward,” she said.
“A different style is needed at different times. This Chief Executive was appointed following the previous Chief Executive, so there was a need for a certain kind of leadership where it was thought that’s what was needed and now it’s time to address the effect of that and move on.”
To address some of the concerns raised during the debate about the power vested in the Chief Executive, Senator Moore said that her Scrutiny Panel will be seeking expert advice on the Machinery of Government Law – which underpins the CEO’s authority - and plan to put forward “some suggestions as to how we can improve the structure.”
Pictured: Senator Moore called for “a different style of leadership” following Charlie Parker's departure.
They will also be launching a review into the culture within the Government.
“It’s a slightly unusual piece of work but we do feel that it’s really important to offer an opportunity to look at the culture and to record some of the concerns that we are hearing from many people which seem to cross many departments,” Senator Moore explained.
“There’s behavioural issues that are pervading from the top of the organisation and really causing distress to people who are working there.”
Reflecting on the no confidence vote itself, Senator Moore said the result was not a “glowing endorsement” for Senator Le Fondré.
“I don’t think it is a strong victory for the Chief Minister. I think there were weak arguments that were put forward as to why the best thing really to do was that now wasn’t the right time to change,” she said. “It seemed that the best arguments in the Chief Minister’s defence was that it wasn’t the right time and many people openly admit that they are not that impressed with his leadership style, which is a pity but there we are.
“We have had the choice and people are content to continue in that space therefore that’s the democratic thing to do.”
Despite losing the vote, she said she was pleased that the debate happened as it “did need to be had and particularly given the recent events” and described it as a “healthy” and “open” discussion.
Senator Moore said she was also encouraged by the level of public engagement, noting how islanders had voiced their views on social media and contacted their representatives.
Pictured: Senator Moore hopes the public will continue to engage with local politics as much as they did ahead of the debate.
“I am sorry for all the people that will be disappointed by the result but I do hope they will continue to show the level of interest that we’ve seen in local politics. I hope we will see a broader group of people standing for election perhaps more people will be encouraged to do so and also much higher levels of voter turnout would be a really good result," Senator Moore added.
"At the very least, we’re going to have an election in May 2022 - but there may well be an election earlier than that.”
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.