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Simon Busuttil says he is against embryo freezing, euthanasia

The leader of the Nationalist Party said he was not willing to accept anything that ‘tampers with life’

yannick_pace
Yannick Pace
22 May 2017, 10:07pm
PN leader Simon Busuttil (left) with moderator Mario Micallef (centre) and PBS Head of News Reno Bugeja (right) (Photo: Marc Edward Pace)
PN leader Simon Busuttil (left) with moderator Mario Micallef (centre) and PBS Head of News Reno Bugeja (right) (Photo: Marc Edward Pace)
Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil said he is against the introduction of embryo freezing, euthanasia and abortion, because he was not willing to accept anything that “tampered with life”.

“I don’t personally agree with abortion and that is the position I will push forward,” said Busuttil. “I don’t agree with euthanasia, and I don’t believe in embryo freezing, because they are all playing with the right to life.”

Busuttil was replying to a question by MaltaToday online editor Miriam Dalli during a Broadcasting Authority press conference, where journalists from five media houses quizzed the him on a range of subjects, ahead of next month’s election.

Dalli was accompanied by Keith Micallef from the Times of Malta, Cory Formosa from Union Print, PBS Head of News Reno Bugeja and Karl Stagno Navarra from ONE TV.

Busuttil dismissed the notion that conservative elements within the coalition – which includes Marlene Farrugia and Godfrey Farrugia - would paralyse the coalition on gender equality and civil liberties issues, adding that since becoming party leader, he had sought to “open up” the PN.

Asked by Micallef about whether the PN had had enough time to reform itself since its 36,000-vote loss to the Labour Party four years ago, Busuttil said he had understood the reasons for the loss and had started to introduce changes.

“We started by changing party officials, and new methods for how things were done were introduced,” he said. “On the one hand, I feel they are still hurt by the PN, but I also feel that like me they know that the country’s wellbeing is at stake.”

He pointed to the appointment of a new shadow cabinet which he said had made it clear that he wanted a new team.  

Faced with the accusation of having created a party that was happy to tarnish Malta’s name abroad, rather than one that been reformed, Busuttil insisted that there was a difference between criticising the Prime Minister and intentionally damaging Malta’s reputation.  

“Joseph Muscat is not Malta,” he said. “To criticise Muscat is not to criticise Malta, and I have done so because I love Malta and I don’t want to see it tainted.”

Proposals

Busuttil was questioned by Bugeja on the PN’s proposals on pensions, which he said would cost roughly €200 million, figure Busuttil disputed, insisting that “Muscat should not be trusted with numbers”.

He said the proposal was a concrete one and would ensure adequate pensions for the country’s elderly citizens.  

“We are saying that the minimum pension will be increased and that income tax is no longer paid on pensions,” he said. “You have already paid income tax on your wage when you were working so why should you pay tax again when you are enjoying your retirement.”

The PN leader said there would be not increase in social security contributions, and no new taxes that would compensate for the increased cost of pensions.

He said he while second pillar pensions made sense in terms of looking to the future, the PN understood that there wasn’t agreement on the matter and, if elected, would be willing to be flexible and to work with the opposition to reach an agreement.

On how his government would fund his proposals, Busuttil insisted that many proposals, especially those related to road infrastructure could be funded through EU funds.

Moreover, he said that the money saved by having a smaller cabinet and the absence of political scandals such as the Café Premier deal and the Gaffarena expropriation would leave a PN government with more money for its proposals.

Another source of funding, he said, would be the Individual Investor Programme (IIP).

Asked about what had changed since his initial resistance to the scheme, and about the fact that a number of people close to the PN were licensed agents in the scheme, Busuttil did not give a direct answer, insisting instead that the scheme would be “cleaned-up”, on the recommendation of a group of experts appointed by himself.

“While it will still attract investment, there will not be sale of citizenship because I am still against the principle,” he said, adding that prospective investors would have to show a commitment towards the country before being given a passport.

Busuttil stressed that, unlike the current government, he would use the proceeds rather than saving them.

Egrant Inquiry

On being challenged by the Prime Minister to resign if the Egrant Inquiry were to find no connection between Muscat and the company Egrant, Busuttil said he was sure the magistrate would feel there was enough evidence to merit further investigation.

“There is a whistleblower that saw with her own eyes, documents saying Egrant belongs to the Prime Minister’s wife,” he said.  “When you have an allegation that isn’t simply made up, but is coming from a person, it must be taken seriously.”

In addition to this, he said a report on Pilatus bank had been published in The Malta Independent, that showed the bank is used for money laundering. He added that the Prime Minister had lied five times when defending himself against the allegations during a debate

Put Together, he said these facts were serious enough for him to speak out.

“God forbid I didn’t speak up,” he said. “People would have questioned what purpose I have, had I not”

Bugeja pointed out that while Busuttil had stated on numerous occasions that he had no faith in the police, there were “other options” that could have been used to report corruption, such as going straight to the courts to challenge the police commissioner or to go the commission against corruption, which he said was “led by a magistrate with a good reputation”.

However, Busuttil stressed that the leader of the opposition should not be there person tasked with acting on matters of corruption.

Turning to the CapitalOne Inquiry, Bugeja also asked Busuttil whether he had tried to find out what was stated by the part of the report that was not published and which had been sent to the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.

Busuttil however insisted the inquiry “had found nothing” and once again stressed that it was not his job to find out what the contents of the report were.

Finally, Busuttil did not deny having told Birdlife representatives that he was against spring hunting, despite publicly saying that he was in favour of it. He said that as far as the PN was concerned the referendum result must be respected and he was sure that Partit Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia, who is against hunting, would accept it.

 

 

yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...