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Speaker to rule on whether PBS can film Budget speeches live

Government turns down Opposition's request for its motion calling for suffrage to 16 year olds to be debated in Parliament within the next month

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
10 October 2016, 3:56pm
Speaker Anglu Farrugia convenes a House Business Committee meeting following Parliament's summer recess
Speaker Anglu Farrugia convenes a House Business Committee meeting following Parliament's summer recess
Speaker Anglu Farrugia will take a decision on whether PBS will be allowed to film the Budget speeches live from Parliament this year.

During a House Business Committee meeting, Farrugia noted that such powers over whether other broadcasters can join Parliament TV from filming inside the House have been vested in him thanks to a new law that has rendered Parliament fully autonomous from government.

Government and Opposition MPs spent some 15 minutes debating this issue, with PN deputy leader Mario de Marco arguing that only Parliament’s own camerapersons should get to film the Budget in an ideal world.

Opposition Whip David Agius questioned whether allowing PBS’ camerapersons into the House could set a precedent for other future high-profile speeches in the House, such as those related to Malta’s upcoming EU presidency.

However, economy minister Chris Cardona noted that Parliament’s TV equipment is currently antiquated and unable to film the reaction shots of MPs to the Budget  speeches of the finance minister, the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader.

Finance minister Edward Scicluna will present the government’s budget for 2017 on October 17. Simon Busuttil will present his reaction to the Budget on 24 October, while Joseph Muscat will respond a day later.

During the House Business Committee, Godfrey Farrugia presented the government’s schedule for the next month of parliamentary debates. Parliament will hold its first debate since its summer recess this evening – on a bill to raise pensions for retired members of the judiciary. Other Bills that will be discussed within the next month include a proposal to ban LGBT+ conversion therapy, the transposition of an EU directive against money laundering, and changes to the law regarding aircraft registration. A large chunk of the sittings will be taken up by separate Budget implementation debates.

Agius vented his frustration that a motion presented jointly by the Opposition and independent MP Marlene Farrugia to reduce the minimum voting age to 16 will not be debated this month.

“If the government is in favour of Vote16, then why doesn’t it want to place it on the agenda within the next month?” he asked. “Does it consider the gender expression act more important than giving 16-year-olds a vote?”

Farrugia insisted that Labour is giving the issue “full importance” despite it not being in the party’s manifesto.

“Parliament’s schedule for this month is very compact and tight with several debates devoted to the Budget. There simply wasn’t any space for the Opposition’s motion,” he said.