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Q&A | More opportunities for Gozitans | Clint Camilleri

Coming from a long line of Labour Party polticians, Qala mayor Clint Camilleri lays down his beliefs in social justice, hoping to take his work in education and infrastructure to a national level

26 May 2017, 12:59pm
Clint Camilleri
Clint Camilleri
How did you first get involved in politics?

I was exposed to politics from an early age. My late father was a councillor for many years, two of my uncles contested the general election for the Labour Party while and grandfather was a MP for the same party. So for me, getting involved was not such a big decision. It was more the extent of the involvement.

Which part of the political life appeals to you?

Being in politics means many things to different persons. However, the close contact with the electorate is something special. You feel that you are somehow contributing to make their life better. As politicians, we should not overestimate our importance but making a difference is what ultimately drives those involved.

Why Labour?

As I said, my family background played a role. But it does not explain entirely why I choose Labour. Ultimately, Labour represents my values that is civil rights, protection of minorities and social justice. Joseph Muscat has also given this movement credibility in terms of economic competence, and we are proud to be pro-business because to be able to distribute wealth, wealth needs to be created first.

If elected, what do you personally hope to change?

I worked as mayor for Qala for a number of years and have given priorities to education and infrastructural projects. This, I believe, should also be translated to a national level. In this regard Gozo needs particular attention to address its double insularity. Another priority would be to continue being consistent on issues that I took a position on in the past such as spring hunting. Controversial or not, I am not someone who goes with the current.

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

Gozitan families want to continue having opportunities. They want employment opportunities and a better future for their children and this was delivered over the past years. They also are worried about the PN’s claim that it will stop the investment in the general hospital. This would mean losing a huge opportunity.

Are Labour’s proposals for Gozo strong enough to incentivise investment and create job opportunities?

I think there is a general consensus that the last four years have seen a marked improvement in employment growth and investment in Gozo. The RS2 and the Barts medical school are the two that get the most coverage but there were many other investments in hotels. The proposals promise to take this to a new level. It would offer incentives to Maltese companies to reallocate to Gozo and benefit from three years tax free, among others.

Do you think that Gozitans are satisfied with the Labour government’s performance?

To be honest, I think the great majority of Maltese and Gozitans are very satisfied. They know they are much better off than they were four years ago. This does not mean that the Labour Party was perfect. Errors were committed. But they also know that we delivered on most things and unlike the PN, we do not have the arrogant attitude that we have some sort of divine right to be in office. People know that we are close to them. 

The Labour Party is pledging the construction of a tunnel: some are in favour, others argue that it will ‘ruin’ the island. What is your position?

Anything can be double edged. The trick is to maximise the benefits and mitigate the cons. A tunnel would address once and for all the issue of double insularity and would ease the flow of people between the islands. Gozo will not be ruined by having a tunnel. It will be ruined if we stop working towards improving its potential. 

Which, in your opinion, was the government’s best decision and worst mistake over the past four years?

Among the many good decisions I think its continuous support to business was final to create wealth, which was ultimately distributed among the families. The lower income tax rates and all the benefits, including free childcare, would not have been possible otherwise. 

On the other hand, I think sometimes we were not strategic enough in terms of timing. The fact that no one is mentioning that the tax rates were lowered from 35% to 25% confirms my point. If this was done by the PN it would have been the talk of the town. 

Which, in your opinion, was the opposition’s best decision and worst mistake over the past four years?

At last, the Opposition seem to have accepted that civil liberties are rights. However, this Opposition has really been a negative one. In my view, the worst thing was that it has not been able to distinguish between our party politics and the interest of Malta. It has constantly bad mouthed our nation abroad and I think this is something that the electorate will not forgive them easily for.