Parts of the States seem very keen on consultation. However my experience of participating in a couple of these consultative exercises in Jersey is that generally they fail. Good, useful consultation only happens when you take an open-minded approach to the exercise. Proper consultation is a risk - you may not get the answers you prefer. Indeed the public's choice may be very uncomfortable to the administration. Trying to manage the consultative process to avoid the difficult outcomes is disingenuous and necessarily diminishes any trust the populace has in the concept of consultation.

Similarly the mind set that sees no problem in commissioning a consultative report from experts and then hiding it down the back of a metaphorical sofa when it is embarrassing or critical has to be swept away. There will be no trust between the people and the administration while incidents like the handling of the Sharp report lasts.

The solutions to avoid and ameliorate the impacts of challenging global forces like climate change and peak oil will likely be huge societal and personal change. Imposition of radical change will only generate resentment and hostility. It is by meaningful and informed dialogue, debate and consultation with the Jersey people that we will find a consensual way to make these very tough decisions.

I am in favour of using referenda for deciding on long term structural changes that can be decided on a simple question.

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