Deputy Duhamel and Senator Gorst.
In his report he says "I do not bring this Proposition lightly. To call for the dismissal of a Minster is a serious
matter, but I do so because it is the right course of action." His report then sets out examples of the ways in which the Deputy had failed to discharge his Ministerial duties and obligations. Senator Gorst claims to have explored these issues in depth and has ensured that the Minister has been provided with opportunities to be heard and to respond.
However Senator Gorst was not satisfied with the Deputy's account and neither he nor his fellow Ministers believed that Deputy Duhamel should continue to hold office, but what is the substance to that claim and does the evidence justify the allegation let alone a verdict.
The issues Senator Gorst claims to have explored are in summary Deputy Luce's asbestos concerns which led him to lodge his vote of no confidence in Deputy Duhamel P148/2013 and can be read HERE .The Co-op and JEC Planning applications and failing to conduct a timely review of the Island Plan. However Senator Gorst really twists the knife by accusing Deputy Duhamel of failing to be open and honest with the Council of Ministers, States Members and the public. If Deputy Duhamel is in the dock why is he alone?
It is no secret that Senator Gorst and other Ministers have been travelling the world in their endeavours to portray Jersey as a paradise and a paragon of virtue. It would appear that on their travels they have trodden on the road to Damascus and have been converted to honourable, virtuous and upstanding fellows who will no longer be economical with the truth and will only give straight and honest answers to questions. I can hardly wait for next Tuesday's Question Time.
Senator Gorst and his Ministers are so squeaky-clean that they cannot work with some one like Deputy Duhamel whom it can be said has often ploughed a lone furrow and is not one of the greatest of team players, however does that make him a bad Minister? From a personal view I think his decision to permit a new school to be built on its existing playing field was illogical because there was a better alternative site. However it is the system that is wrong and one that Deputy Duhamel inherited from former Minister Freddie Cohen.
One could ask why the Chief Minister has not sought to change a practice which allows one Minister so much control/power in Planning matters with little or no affordable appeal system. To an outsider it could be perceived that the Co-op and the JEC are using their influence to remove Deputy Duhamel so he can be replaced by a Minister who will give consent to their planning applications. Deputy Duhamel's failure to support Senator Corst's Plemont proposition must also grate.
It is all very well for Deputy Steve Luce to seek Brownie points over the long standing asbestos concerns. but most people are unaware of the asbestos and that can only been down to the failure of the Trappist States Members who have failed to raise the matter during question time. If the matter was so serious why has so little been done to raise awareness? Had Deputy Luce the courage of his convictions he would not have withdrawn his proposition at Senator Gorst's behest.
The asbestos matter is in hand but can that be said of the extending waiting list at the General Hospital or a malfunctioning incinerator purchased at exorbitant cost, the re-location of the police station, tenancy legislation, updating Jersey's Licensing Law and many other long standing issues?
It can be said that the pot is calling the kettle black as far as the review of the Island Plan is concerned. Senator Gorst and many fellow Ministers opposed my amendments to establish a Committee of Inquiry into Jersey's Child Abuse. They have been dragged kicking and screaming to the wire and it has taken three years for the Inquiry to get under way..
Senator Gorst is feeling hard done by in that he does not have the power to hire and fire Ministers. If he feels that way why has he not sought to change the Law to give him that right. However I doubt whether enough States Members would be that stupid to give so much power to one person. It has been reported that the Chief Minister cannot select his Ministers, that is incorrect, he can select but it is down to fellow Members to approve his nominations. It should be remembered that Senator Gorst nominated Deputy Duhamel warts and all but only narrowly defeated Deputy Eddie Noel who opposed him for the position.
I was present on 11th September 2007 when the States debated P117/2007 which was the proposition lodged by the former Chief Minister Senator Frank Walker seeking support to dismiss the former Senator Stuart Syvret. The proposition contained 82 pages compared to the 39 paged Gorst proposition. Interestingly on page 22 of the Walker proposition is a letter signed by all the Ministers with the exception of Senator Kinnard who abstained, calling for Senator Syvret's dismissal. Senator Gorst's proposition does not contain a similar letter.
I was one of the 19 who voted against the proposition with 30 members in support in what was a very acrimonious debate. When comparing the 2 propositions, the latest is pretty flimsy and certainly not worthy of success. However the States like God moves in mysterious ways and some Members are likely to support the proposition to enhance their political position rather than consider it on its merits. Very importantly they should also compare Deputy Duhamel's overall performance with other Ministers including the Chief Minister's.
As mentioned above I believe that Deputy Duhamel's decision to approve the application to build on St Martin's School Field was illogical but that is not one cited by the Chief Minister who could have quite easily have saved the field had he accepted my nomination for it to be Jersey's Diamond Jubilee's Playing Field. Unfortunately Senator Gorst not only ignored my nomination but he failed to conduct the selection process in a proper and timely manner where not only was the playing field lost but Jersey does not have a Diamond Jubilee field.
Senator Gorst has accused Deputy Duhamel of dishonesty and by implication being dishonourable but is he being hypercritical? It is apparent that he wants his cake and eat it too. He is tossing a double headed coin so that what ever way it falls will result in him remaining as Chief Minister. This is because it has been reported that he will not resign if Members do not support his proposition. Surely if his relationship and confidence in Deputy Duhamel is so strained that he wants him removed, how can he work with him should his proposition fail?
Dismissing a Minister is a very serious and divisive matter but should be the last and not as in this case the first option. Senator Gorst has pressed the nuclear button but his report does not provide any evidence of relationships being so bad that the end of the road has been reached which clearly it has not. This is evident by the fact that Senator Gorst does not have unanimous Council of Minister's support and is prepared to work with the Deputy if his proposition fails.
This being the case Senator Gorst should show Leadership by withdrawing his proposition thus preventing a debate which will leave only losers, will weaken his position and the credibility of an already lack lustre Council of Ministers, will bring the Island into disrepute and at the cost of valuable States time and public expense.
On the day before the debate Senator Gorst withdrew his proposition because he claimed that he and Deputy Duhamel had met and in affect had kissed and made up after Deputy Duhamel had apologised. At the States Sitting next day Senator Gorst would not get drawn into explaining when or where the meetings were held and/or witnessed. Given that he had accused Deputy Duhamel of being dishonest no one knows why he was still willing to work with him.
Deputy Duhamel has not made a statement or publicly commented on the reason for the u turn, however according to Senator Gorst, Deputy Duhamel will not meet applicants unless accompanied.