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Q&A | Vouching for the truth | Andy Ellul

Describing himself as a liberal, lawyer Andy Ellul says he will push for healthy debates on social issues if elected to parliament

15 May 2017, 8:06am
Andy Ellul
Andy Ellul
Which part of the political life appeals to you?

During my work experience as a Criminal and Family lawyer for the past 10 years, I came across almost all types of social problems. The PL was again a catalyst in bringing about the change the Maltese people were craving for when it came to social and civil rights. Society is ever evolving and that is why law is a vibrant phenomenon. It is this aspect of political life that most appeals to me, that of legislating against unjust inequalities. It is mainly through legislation that politicians can bring about change, and being a lawyer this is an aspect which most appeals to me. 

What will you bring to the table?

If elected I would strive to ensure that the benefits of our economic boom are reaped and distributed in a just manner. This question depends a lot however on the tasks that will be assigned to me. Irrespective of any tasks however, I will remain close to the people to address their needs, as the worst thing that can happen to a politician is to detach from social realities. 

If elected, what do you personally hope to change?

Currently, our country is rapidly going through positive economic and social changes as never before. Being a liberal person, I will not hesitate to instigate healthy debates on social issues, including fringe issues where legislation has lagged behind causing a hindrance to social peace and advancement, such as outdated drug laws. Economic development creates new levels of poverty, as standards rise and new inequalities surface, not just in material wealth but also in opportunities. We cannot allow a situation where those who lag behind are left to fend for themselves. But one further important aspect is the family. I would like to see people being able to afford to work for fewer hours in order to be able to spend more quality time with the family.  

All candidates pledge to be close to the electorate tangibly, how do you plan to represent your voters?

Successive PN administrations have shown us that if the government loses touch with the aspirations of the people and their preoccupations, it will eventually lose its purpose and legitimacy. Keeping in touch with the electorate does not mean reminding them for whom to vote come election time. Being close to the electorate means identifying injustices, concerns, degradations, and seeking to remedy situations for whole segments of society before matters get out of hand.  If elected, I will keep my promise not to detach myself from social and economic realities by maintaining an office in the heart of the fourthth district.

Which, in your opinion, was the government’s best decision and worst mistake since the 2013 general election?

The government’s best decision was to boost the economy, not only by seeking new opportunities to profit the country, but also by allowing space for small and medium-sized enterprises to flourish and prosper. These are the main drivers of employment in any country and it is to their merit that Malta’s unemployment rate is now the lowest in Europe.

As for the latter part of the question, there are Labour voters still seeking redress for the discrimination they suffered under 25 years of PN administrations. I believe Labour should have done more in this area. We can remedy situations without creating new discriminations. 

Which, in your opinion, was the opposition’s best decision and worst mistake since the 2013 general election?

The opposition maintained a negative approach throughout this legislature. Yet during the past two weeks it has finally embraced the Malta Citizenship by Investment Programme (IIP) and free childcare services. The PN’s worst decision was to not distance itself from the same corrupt politicians ¬– they have not changed even under a new leader. Its worst mistake was to allow its leader, Simon Busuttil to take his marching orders from the DCG blog, which, as we have seen, has largely defined the PN agenda, representing a tiny minority of Establishment figures who believe Labour should never be allowed to govern. They have also failed miserably with respect to promoting LGBTI rights, amongst others.  

Based on your door-to-door encounters, what are the top three concerns of families?

As I said earlier, economic advancement may create relative poverty. I have encountered families in need who deserve attention. Fringe concerns do not come up in surveys. So it is not the traffic situation that concerns these families. The main issue that is constantly featuring  while doing door-to-door is the discomfort emanating from the unnecessary intense political divide that is instigated by the PN. People are also concerned about the fact that, despite our constant success within the EU and in particular with the Presidency, the PN are vehemently trying to damage and tarnish our reputation with our European counterparts. They feel sad about this situation. 

A possible framework for the recreational use of cannabis has been suggested by both political parties: in your opinion, how can Malta’s drug policy be reformed?

It is a known fact that cannabis users come from all walks of life. As we have seen in other European countries, a more sensible approach is not to address the drug situation with tougher enforcement on users as this will only exacerbate the problem. We have to be more tolerant and address the issue at heart. We have much to learn here and only a mature approach will suffice. Other countries have successfully paved the way in this field and we can easily follow their lead. A good start with regard to cannabis is to acknowledge its benefits for medical purposes and allow this sector to establish itself within set guidelines. Thanks to a Labour government, the debate has already kickstarted even though this is considered as a hot potato and an issue which may drain a number of votes. 

MaltaToday’s surveys suggest that there’s been a shift in people’s concerns, moving towards governance and corruption. If elected, as a representative of the people, how will you address these concerns?

Corruption is one of the main reasons the PN lost its mandate in 2013. There are, of course, genuine concerns and others based on lies and propaganda. On my part, I will not refrain from condemning corruption when corruption is clearly the case.  In my profession as a lawyer I always vouch for the truth, thus I will strive to enhance our good governance, structures and systems, while at the same time reduce bureaucracy. There is also a need to enhance the competences within the Civil Service and to introduce more electronic platforms which provide adequate safeguards. One has to keep in mind that it is only thanks to this government that we can now speak about laws against corruption, such as the Whistleblowers Act, the Party Financing Act, the Standards in Public Life Act,  and the removal of prescription on corruption cases. 

Do you think it’s enough for the PL to tell the electorate “we’ve made mistakes, and we’re sorry”. Why?

An administration that does not admit its mistakes is an arrogant administration. Most certainly, admissions and apologies are not enough if one does not seek to learn from these mistakes and try to remedy the causes. Governing is about good leadership and Joseph Muscat has managed to attract a high level of investments which required rapid responses and fast actions in order to maintain the pace and not miss out on the opportunities when they presented themselves. In my opinion our services and existing systems were not geared for this success and as a consequence administrative mistakes were made in this successful journey.  

Lawyer Andy Ellul, contesting the fourth district for the Labour Party