During his first press briefing on 29 August newly appointed Governor His Excellency Augustus Jaspert announced that he does not take umbrage to the fact that some legislators were absent from his swear in ceremony and he dispelled rumors that he was here to cause ‘heads to roll’. Additionally, Mr. Jaspert announced that at this point he would not speculate about matters of accountability and transparency.
The Governor who wrapped up his first week on the job informed reporters that a number of issues came across his desk. However, he did not go into details as to the nature of the matters that came to his attention. In fact when he was pressed for information the Governor said; “I am not going to get into specific issues.”
Mr. Jaspert was asked if he would be pushing for more transparency, and if he was satisfied that there is good governance. His Excellency was also asked to say what actions he may take if both areas were found to be lacking. In response the Governor told reporters that he preferred not to speculate. “I am not going to deal too much with theoretical because you can go too far on that…A key part of the Governor’s role is helping to support good accountability that runs across every issue you can think of,” he said.
As Governor Mr. Jaspert has responsibility of the public service, and this area – he said – is dear to his heart as he has served in many roles in the UK civil service. Here in his new role he indicated that his biggest responsibility will be to provide support. “The governor’s role as I see it is to try and support the whole system to be as effective as it can be rather than make it a personal issue for myself.”
Nonetheless, he stated that he has great expectation of the public servants in the Territory. “I expect the best service from everyone who takes public office in any way and that is the highest standards, the best work ethics and the best commitment to the public it is an absolute honor whichever area you work in,” Mr. Jaspert said.
“Public servants are in a fantastically privileged position because the public has placed its faith in them…so my expectation is they do that job to the absolutely best of their ability with complete integrity, complete impartiality and serve the public brilliantly well,” the Governor added.
Many eyed with concern that only five of the 13 members of the House of Assembly were present at the 22 August swearing in ceremony for Governor Jaspert and using the blogs many speculated as to why many politicians were not present.
One week later the media broached the concern to the Governor who announced that he was not bothered by the absence: “Look, I am only on week one. I got sworn in on Tuesday –it’s not even a full week. My diary has been pretty hectic, I have got lots to do. People are off island for holidays, that’s something I respect. There’ll be times I’ll be off island on holiday. Hope you don’t give me grief for taking a break every now and then – it is important. The big picture is I am here for a few years and I have got time to work with people,” the Governor explained.
He further informed reporters that he expected to see the other members of Cabinet that he hadn’t meet later this week, when they are back in the Territory.
Heads May Not Roll
In a similar manner Governor Jaspert responded to the question of whether heads will roll as he fulfills his mandate. In response the Governor noted that he was familiar with the blog comments, but explained that he is not in the habit of keeping up to date with the blogs.
“I have learnt over many years not to think too, too much about every single comment on a blog site. You kind of obsess a little bit too much about them. But they are a good way of hearing what people are saying, some people are saying,” the Governor stated.
In terms of making heads roll explained clearly: “I don’t come here with a set agenda in the lines that some of the people on the blogs have been saying. The only agenda I come here with is an agenda…how to make this place even better and taking this Territory forward for the future.” “That’s all about partnership, it is all about working with people and if there are things that over time there are areas that people need to be held accountable for…I expect for the institutions to be holding them to account and the Governor has a role to help those institutions hold people to account,” His Excellency added.