Politicians have waged war on one of the Island’s favourite and most enduring pastimes: gossiping and treating half-baked rumours as fact.
For time immemorial, Jerseymen and women have relied as much on their friends, neighbours and that bloke in the pub for news as they have official channels.
Yesterday, States Members recognised that hearsay, particularly on social media, had been elevated to high art during the covid crisis and attempted to gain greater public trust by agreeing to publish the full details of scientific and technical advice given to them.
Presenting his debut proposition to the Assembly, backbencher Deputy Kevin Pamplin’s idea was accepted without opposition.
From 1 August, the group of doctors, scientists and other experts who advise ministers – called the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell, or STAC – will have their own page on Gov.je.
Pictured: Deputy Kevin Pamplin's first proposition to the States Assembly was a successful one
There, its minutes, membership and recommendations will be published for all to see.
The agreed proposal also ensures that only experts, or people invited to STAC to help with a specific issue, can attend – something Deputy Pamplin suggested would avoid a Dominic Cummings-style controversy, when the Prime Minister's chief political adviser was found to have attended meetings of the UK equivalent.
Test, track and trace data will also be published on an ongoing basis and Ministers have pledged to brief the public, via press conferences, media briefings or other 'engagements', on a weekly basis.
With the Council of Ministers already accepting Deputy Pamplin’s plan, with a few tweaks, the proposition appeared likely to be approved from the outset.
The States Assembly has voted to ADOPT Deputy @KevinPamplin’s amended COVID exit strategy communication proposal.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) July 14, 2020
39 FOR vs 0 AGAINST
Only chief scrutineer Senator Kristina Moore offered a critical observation when she questioned why it had taken a backbench proposal to improve the transparency of government in this time of crisis.
However, the Chief Minister argued against this, saying that since early March, the Government had dealt with 1,300 media inquiries, made 15 pre-recorded announcements, given 31 live-streamed press conferences and 16 Members’ briefings.
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