Friday, 24 July 2009

Deputy Tadier and the Battle for Jersey 2009

Deputy Montfort Tadier bravely broke rank today – he walked out of Scrutiny Panel meetings for both Education and Home Affairs – because they are “discriminatory” against the public of Jersey and in particular “Citizens Media” like “The Voice”.

At both meetings Channel Television were allowed to film without any restraint and nobody objected but Deputy Tadier said this filming was not acceptable, made his protest and walked.

Regular readers/viewers will know that our Government is plotting to formally legislate so that “non accredited” Journalists or Bloggers will not be allowed to video or record Scrutiny Panel Meetings at all see proposition P112 on the gov website http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/frame.asp and this is just the start because all so called “Public” meetings of our Government will inevitably follow suit.

“The Voice” challenged Minister of Home Affairs Senator Ian Le Marquand afterwards and he confirmed that he objected to non “accredited” people being allowed to record Scrutiny Meetings on the grounds that “lay people” must be protected. But there were NO lay people at the meeting and he refused to defend his own stance any further.
Such is the low level to which our “representatives” will sink in order to suppress FREE EXPRESSION and Government transparency.

Be warned such freedoms are too valuable to lose and once again the whole Scrutiny Process is called into doubt.

This is especially sad because some of the Scrutiny Panel Members work endlessly – but what is the point if the Tax Paying Public is kept in the dark and nobody takes any notice of Scrutiny Panel Reports.

THE SYSTEM MUST CHANGE.

10 comments:

Jill Gracia said...

Good on you Monty!

You're going places.

moral-rightness said...

So in Jersey, it may be said that, "accredited" Journalists and Bloggers are those who follow "the Jersey way" and those "non-accredited" will provide the public with a full and honest account!!

"accredited" = censorship - spin
"non-accredited" = full disclosure - truth

Anonymous said...

Well done deputy Tadier and vfc.Yet again he shows how things could be with a strong moral stance delivered intelligently and articulately.A fine states member representing the people of jersey.

Anonymous said...

The Jersey public is not aware just how deeply the local "accredited" press is embedded into the government system.

The government wants a compliant press to work as a PR department and affords the tame journalists special facilities and exclusive access to press releases and press conferences. In return the "accredited" press churn out the unquestioned Government Press Releases and the official spin and we the dumb public fall for the line that we have "free expression".

Keep up the good work "Team Voice" and the sooner some other bloggers wake up to the reality of the government proposition 112 the better.

Ian Evans said...

Well done Monty, the right stance. Let us hope others will support your view.

"The truth is the truth, wherever it is spoken"

Prof Andrew Le Sueur said...

The plenary and committee meetings of some legislatures in the UK are routinely webcast by the institution itself (with significant meetings being archived):
http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Live.aspx (UK Parliament)
http://www.holyrood.tv/ (Scottish Parliament).

There are unobtrusive remote-controlled cameras in the main chambers and scrutiny committee rooms. This avoids any argument as to which journalists are and are not accredited and minimises any disruption that may be caused with cameras being set up. I'd like this possibility to be thrown into the debate.

voiceforchildren said...

Andrew.

The point you raise is very valid and possibly a level playing field solution.

However This is Jersey we are talking about. It didn't earn the slogans "Island of secrets", "cutlure of concealment" and many more similar without good reason.

Our Ruling Elite thrive on power and enjoy a "very special relationship" with our local "accredited" media. The Plebs are fed, in my opinion, little morsals of Government Propoganda and kept in the dark as to what is really going on.

What's really happening here is Scrutiny is in danger of being exposed as a total ineffetive waste of time and millions of pounds of tax payers money. The Government is in danger of losing its grip of power and control over what makes it into the public domain.

The propsition 112 is a mere formality the "public" will not be allowed to film "public" hearings and the, oh so accomadating "accredited" Press will carry on enjoying their monopoly of power, along with our ruling elite.

Anonymous said...

Prof Le Sueur's comments are interesting but it would be useful for somebody with the techie knowledge to explain how this could work in Jersey.
We understand that Channel TV has applied to broadcast States meetings but how and who pays is not at all clear. Are there spare tv channels available? Perhaps the Digital system will create channels for such sound and vision broadcasting at low cost when the changeover comes - but is anybody leading any discussions on this? Presumably it would need a joint CIs approch too and what will happen to all the defunct existing tv and radio channels? Can these be handed over to the general public for citizens use or is the proximity to France a problem? Or is there a plan to keep these within the control of existing broadcasting services?

Presumably too the final decision on whether a Scrutiny meeting or any other "public" meeting goes "in camera" to discuss private or personal matters will rest with the same prejudiced people that make these decisions now. If so, the screens will go blank very regularly.

But if anybody has the techie answers - please comment here so that we can all know.

Prof Andrew Le Sueur said...

I'm no techie --but I think there's a difference between webcasting (i.e. making things available over the internet for people to watch on their PCs either "live, as it happens" or by clicking on an "archive") and broadcasting (i.e. on television and radio). Anonymous is right that there are numerous technical issues to consider -- and at some point I'm sure the question of cost would be used to argue against the idea.

As to when committees go into "public" and "private" mode: in the UK Parliament, when a select committee (the equivalent of a scrutiny panel in Jersey) is taking evidence from witnesses, it will normally meet for the first 10-20 minutes in private to finalise the planning of who will ask what question questions; video starts, and the public are admitted, when the witnesses go in and start being questioned. That seems sensible to me. In an inquiry after witnesses have all been heard, a select committee will have several private meetings (no public, no video) to discuss what their findings are and how they are going to be set out in a report. Again, I have no problem with that. The focus should be on the final report rather than the discussions leading to it. If a member feels strongly that the report is wrong on a point, very occassionally a minority report may be published.

What does trouble me is that sometimes scrutiny panels have private sessions with prospective/actual witnesses before or during the course of an inquiry. I think it's important that scrutiny is, and is seen to be, carried out at arm's length from ministers/officials/law officers.

And to give credit where it's due: the introduction of the written record of States meetings (here for anyone outside Jersey who may not be familiar with it: http://www.statesassembly.gov.je under 'Hansard') was a big step forward in accountability. And, of course, written transcripts are published of evidence taken by scrutiny panels. I'd argue that routine webcasting is really just another relatively small step in the process of opening up the work of the States rather than a big issue of principle.

mopinwil said...

Oh how refreshing. Good for you Monty for taking a moral stance.

Maureen