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June 21, 2024
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Infrastructure

Jersey’s Chief Minister accused of ‘secrecy’ by former Infrastructure Minister


ACCUSATIONS of “secrecy” and “interference” have been levelled against Chief Minister Kristina Moore by former Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet following his no-confidence motion lodged earlier this week.

And Deputy Binet – who tendered his resignation from the Council of Ministers on Tuesday – claims he was called to a meeting at the end of last year to be informed, without prior consultation, that responsibility for transport would be stripped from his ministerial portfolio for what he described as reasons of “political expediency”.

He said: “I was perfectly content looking after the hospital and Infrastructure, however – as I explained in my report [accompanying the no-confidence proposition] – interference started to happen. For a few months I was left alone and then at the end of the summer, I found that I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody what the hospital was going to cost. There was a significant amount of pressure on me to keep it a secret. So much for transparency,” Deputy Binet said.

The former minister’s proposition to unseat the Chief Minister will be debated in the States a week on Tuesday, at the first meeting of the new year. Deputy Binet has already confirmed that he would be prepared to stand as the next Chief Minister if he succeeds. The Deputy first voiced his discontent within the Council of Ministers in early 2023, following the unexpected resignation of the government’s former chief executive Suzanne Wylie, something he blamed on “inappropriate treatment of the people around [the Chief Minister]”.

“A few weeks ago, possibly about a month ago, and very, very unusually – almost for the first time in the whole of my time there – I was invited to a meeting to be informed that transport was being removed from my ministerial portfolio. No reasons were offered and no questions asked as to the effect of it, given that it’s an integral part of a larger operational group.

“This was just being done as a result of political expediency in order to try to manage the tensions that had developed with the Environment Minister. The point I’m making is that, for political reasons, the Chief Minister thinks that the operational side of things are pieces on a chessboard that you can push in any direction. There was no consideration or concern for what the operational effects of it were, not even an inquiry. In business terms that would be an act of suicide,” Deputy Binet said.

In response to his claims, Deputy Moore said: “In respect of the cost of the hospital, in order to ensure we are protecting the commercial confidentiality of the programme, the affordability of the programme and ultimately the best interests of taxpayers, we have taken the view, like most other nations, that it is not right to set out a figure at the outset. No other country publishes its outline business case in advance of going to tender. In addition, given the timeframe of the whole programme, costs will change as the economic environment changes.

“As part of work to agree the optimal proposal for Islanders, and following concerns voiced by clinicians and others, a discussion was held to run through the rationale that led to the proposed split over the two sites. This was to ensure that everyone was comfortable with the direction we were taking and had an opportunity to express views (there were some new contributors to the process at this point). It is important for us to continue debating to provide answers to new and relevant questions that often arise during the course of a major project like this.

“In addition to formal meetings of the Council of Ministers and ministerial groups, ministers are regularly invited to meet the Chief Minister for discussions on a range of issues. Part of the Chief Minister’s role is to keep under consideration ministerial portfolios, ensuring an appropriate balance and that we meet the States decision for direct lines of accountability between ministers and departments.”



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