Have Ministry, will travel

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As well as their domestic duties in the Island, Ministers are finding themselves increasingly in demand to represent the Island overseas.

Before the advent of Ministerial government, the trips would be shared out amongst a wider number of politicians serving on a variety of committees.

Now that privilege of representing Jersey overseas increasingly falls to Ministers at events such as British-Irish Council events, trips to the Middle East and elsewhere to promote the finance industry and sporting events.

Education Minister Mike Vibert is one of those whose office has led to a number of global excursions.

After a three-week trip to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne – with a side excursion to New Zealand to look at universities there – he was away again this week on a working trip to the Isle of Man.

In contrast to sitting near the Queen in Australia, the itinerary included visits to, among other things, the island’s sewage treatment and new energy from waste plants.

Yesterday, the Senator packed his bags again having been invited to Lords for the third day of the first England against Sri Lanka cricket Test as the special guest of the Jersey Cricket Board.

He has, however, decided that he will not be travelling to Crete to represent Jersey – in a political capacity – at the Jeux des Iles.

Senator Vibert said that he worked very hard to promote the Island when abroad and stressed that the Australia trip had cost the taxpayer just £146 for the flights plus the cost of accommodation.

He added that he had deliberately opted for a cheaper hotel than the official one recommended and pointed out that spending 20 hours on an aeroplane was not his idea of fun.

The Senator attended the Island Games for a week in Shetland last year.

He said that the Games were the pinnacle of sporting achievement for the Island and it was important he was there to support the athletes and to meet other sports ministers at a special Commonwealth meeting.

‘Nearly every country’s Sports Minister attends, including Guernsey,’ he said.

As for the Isle of Man visit, he said he had gone at the request of the Chief Minister to report back about the sewage and energy from waste facilities that island has.

He said he had gained a lot from the visit.

And Senator Vibert said that he had been invited by the Jersey Cricket Board to attend the Lords President’s Day Test on Saturday to meet ICC officials as Jersey entered the international cricket scene.

‘I am looking forward to going to Lords,’ he said, ‘but I am giving up a day and a half of my family weekend because they have asked for my help expanding Jersey cricket.’ Senator Vibert added that his travels went hand in hand with the Chief Minister’s efforts to promote Jersey as a separate entity with a unique identity.

He explained that just as other ministers attended events in Dubai to promote the finance industry, it was important he supported the Island educationally, through sport and culture.

‘Travel is a necessary part of the job,’ he said, ‘especially as the Strategic Plan calls on Ministers to help develop Jersey’s own international personality, and going to situations like the Commonwealth sports ministers meeting before the Commonwealth Games is therefore very important.’

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