Today a scrutiny panel of the States of Jersey revealed that two departing senior civil servants had received pay-offs of £300,000 and half a million pounds respectively. One of those was Mr Bill Ogley, the former Chief Officer. Mr Ogley is believed to be leaving the island by the end of the week, in advance of the official date of termination of his contract.
At a time of Austerity, when government cuts will inevitably lead to loss of jobs, be they teachers or gardeners, one cannot but feel a sense of shock that such a large sum of money is paid as a redundancy package to senior civil servants, knowing full well that the teachers and gardeners will only receive enough to see them through a few months of mortgage and bills, before poverty looms. It is this sense of indignation that fuels so much current public disquiet about the conduct of affairs at senior levels of government. There is an immediate sense of injustice that cries out.
The former Woolworths workers may well ponder why the Council of Ministers was so reluctant to make a one off redundancy payment to them, having failed to bring forward redundancy legislation. Perhaps this underlines the old adage that "its one rule for them and another for us". Inequalities are rife.
At a lunchtime meeting I mentioned these facts to my host. I expected an immediate gasp of incredulity. In fact, he remained totally calm and said to me “Mr Ogley; only five hundred thousand; I would have expected more!”. It seems that at least one member of the Public is never surprised by the conduct of Jersey government.
The figures were preferred by Senator Jim Perchard whilst cross examining the Chief Minister at a corporate services scrutiny panel quarterly meeting with Senator Terry Le Sueur. That they were not immediately contradicted or challenged by the Chief Minister, suggests that the figures are accurate.
The Jersey Evening Post had sent a reporter to attend the meeting, no doubt in the expectation of some sort of revelatory tit-bit. The reporter was not disappointed - expect front page headlines of indignation.
What is less likely to catch the headlines, but is nevertheless noteworthy, was the aside by the Chief Minister that there might be a “..cessation of a need for a Housing Department.”. These cryptic, yet ominous words were a little revelation in themselves as to the way government leaders are thinking.
It has been remarked that a crisis is too good an opportunity to be missed. In fact the government elite is pursuing an ideological agenda to radically prune, if not abolish, the welfare state, through a process of privatization and increased charges to the consumer. Put simply, patients will be paying for their bandages and the fireman will not turn on his hose until he has taken a credit card. My next blog will examine this change in policy and its implication for islanders.