Muscat reacts to PN’s challenge: ‘Police free to investigate ...
[LIVE] Government's vote of confidence passed in the House
Follow MaltaToday from the House of Representatives for today's motion of confidence in the government at 6pm.
4 June 2012, 12:00am
This live-blog has ended.
21:15 Government's vote of confidence has passed: 35 votes in favour, 34 against.
21:11 "This government's priority is the creation of jobs... our policy is totally different to Labour's. Education for us is the key to our children achieving their destiny; and free healthcare offers solutions to people passing through their hardest moments. This is why I am asking the House for their vote of confidence."
21:08 On disability trusts, Gonzi says allowances for disabled people will be converted into pensions - this in response to Muscat's proposal for the creation of trusts for the disabled. "We have a substantial number of disabled people living in the community and not in some institution thanks to our initiatives."
21:06 "Malta is ahead in the EU rankings of university graduates who find employment" - Gonzi is firing off answers to several issues raised by Muscat.
21:04 "This motion tonight will confirm that the Opposition's attitude here is not a genuine one."
21:01 "Mr Speaker, I can confirm that tonight we will have a clear and unequivocal vote that confirms the confidence in this goverment."
20:59 "Muscat has the ambition of being the youngest prime minister in Maltese history. Our country does not need this sort of prime minister, but a government that governs in the national interest."
20:57 Commotion in the House, with Opposition's audible protests at Lawrence Gonzi's hit-list of crimes and other misdemeanours under 1980s Labour government.
20:56 "The reason they don't enjoy hearing us recount their darkest times is because they are responsible for the death of people in the custody of the police... la verità offende (truth hurts)."
20:55 "What's hysterical about Labour is their reaction to government, calling us fascists or mocking MPs as 'bishops'.
20:54 "We've wasted our time listening to Muscat's cut-and-paste speech of regurgitated points he has already made."
20:53 Prime Minister's reply.
20:51 "The Prime Minister must face political reality: his problem is not Franco Debono, but the system of governing he has adopted."
20:47 Muscat says politicians should stop using chidren in their government photo ops.
20:45 Muscat reiterates his 'fair society' proposal for a social impact assessment on all major economic decisions.
20:37 "The prime minister says we don't have a problem of youth unemployment, when 48% of those looking for a job are younger than 29 years of age... that's why we issued a proposal, along with the European socialists' party, for a youth guarantee."
20:32 Muscat is accusing the Prime Minister of having already consented to EU pressures to raise retirement age. "On our part, we have no issue in saying we disagree with raising the pensionable age and that the solution lies in creating economic growth and not making people work more."
20:28 Muscat turns to the regulator's decision issued Monday on Bank of Valletta. READ HERE
20:24 "What sort of value-added will a capital project like the new Parliament bring? All he cares about is seeing his name emblazoned on the parliament's commemorative stone. What we need are capital projects that are productive and create jobs."
20:22 "Government's economic predictions are too over-optimistic, and overruns in the government's spending" - Muscat is citing the recent EC update on the national reform programme.
20:20 Muscat is now tackling the state of the economy, citing an increase in the government's deficit despite the €40 million spending cuts.
20:15 Muscat is talking about the death of inmate Stephen Spiteri was found dead in his prison cell, naked, of an overdose of blood pressure control pills after he had been medically assisted an hour earlier by the prison doctor, and is demanding answers from the prime minister as to the facts surrounding this case.
20:13 Muscat is now saying Lawrence Gonzi must answer to questions about the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and the Whistleblowers' Act, which he says does not grant protection to those who flag corruption and is not retroactive.
20:10 "The way the prime minister dances to the tune of Europe's leaders' has seen him first flirting with Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, and now harping about economic growth after Francois Hollande was elected."
20:08 "The Prime Minister has criticised us for taking the government to task for accepting a farcical voluntary burden sharing system, when one of his MEPs now is calling for an obligatory burden sharing system."
20:06 "The Prime Minister will not be totally focused on home affairs, and the reason he cannot appoint a parliamentary secretary is to avoid some internal turmoil. He is that much hostage to the political system he has created."
20:04 "In the previous legislature he had a parliamentary secretary assisting him in finance. Then he had parliamentary secretaries assistnig him in environment, local councils, and tourism... he is now contemplating spending the rest of the legislature as home affairs minister, where illegal immigration, the police corps and the situation inside our prisons require total attention. The prime minister is only being political expedient."
20:02 "The Prime Minister's decision to take home affairs and local councils under his wing is a stop-gap measure which the PM knows is no solution."
19:56 "We were taken to task that our motion attacked 'an honourable person'... but this reasoning betrays the Nationalists' forma mentis... is the Prime Minister's standard now whether you happen to be some simpleton or not? The prime minister wants MPs to be in the House to be chummy-chummy, with a tacit agreement not to attack each other, while the people out there are politically divided."
19:53 Muscat refers to De Marco's 'hysteric' speech. "He's pitching to some kind of electors" - a snide remark about De Marco's leadership ambitions. "If there's something to be ashamed for is the promotion of the police officers he himself was criticising" [this is a direct reference to De Marco's father Guido, who as home affairs minister had promoted many of the police officers who were responsible for the atrocities of the police corps in the 1980s].
19:53 "If this is the way the Prime Minister acts with one person, then it's also the way he behaves with thousands of families."
19:50 "At the time of the motion of no-confidence in Austin Gatt, the prime minister declared this was a vote they would take collective responsibility for, meaning if one minister goes, everybody goes. The Prime Minister, as a former Speaker, knows the weight such a declaration carries. So in the case of Austin Gatt he said there would be collective responsibility - but he left Mifsud Bonnici to swim on his own. There was no mention that this doctrine of collective responsibility still stands."
19:45 "From day one, we consistently said we would reduce utility tariffs, that the Delimara extension had to be instantly converted to gasoil. The government has consistently told us we cannot reduce rates or that gas was not cheaper than heavy fuel oil... today the finance minister was addressing an energy conference, where he said the power station would be converted to gas. The difference is that we will pay more to finally convert the power station when we could have done it instantly."
19:44 "A consistent trait in the GonziPN system is postponing problems, creating decoys, as the government is doing now with the Opposition."
19:39 "The prime minister is totally in denial... this motion is the result of his style of governing... everybody listening to this debate and the prime minister yesterday, are realising the problem facing the prime minister. If he thinks the electorate is not realising this, he really is in denial."
19:39 "Today's motion of confidence is a one-liner that does not justify the heartfelt defence put up by government last week in response to our motion."
19:36 "The Prime Minister is a hostage to the seat of power, to a system he has created. And he may emerge from this House triumphant, but he will back here in a worse-off position... he can laugh this off, but time seems to be proving us right."
19:34 "The problem with this government is not down to one MP. It's the way it governs... when the Prime Minister decided to run a leadership election on his own, we warned him it would not solve anything, and here he is now, back to square one, having lost the country precious time."
19:32 "The Prime Minister has already three votes of confidence or no-confidence in this House. And every time he was in this House he speaks of foreign investment: I remember him telling investors in London that even a change of government in Malta does not affect stability in the country. And yet, this government has to contend with the third vote of confidence in this House."
19:29 "What we're seeing today is a new brand of politics. A confidence motion to be interpreted as a motion of no confidence in the Opposition, as if the people I represent - just short of half the country - have no right in having their MPs represented in this House."
19:28 "The hysterism we have witnessed today puts paid to the implorations to visit the electorate in their kitchens. Instead this prime minister has reverted to the politics of tribalism, the us-and-them battle. And certainly this Opposition will never reach the height of arrogance that this government displays."
19:27 "What are we seeing here is some sort of performance to see who is fit to take over the prime minister's job" - Muscat must be referring to De Marco's firebrand speech tonight in the House.
19:26 Opposition leader Joseph Muscat addressing the House.
19:24 "In foreign policy we have signed numerous bilateral agreements, none of which were secret [a reference to the North Korean agreement of 1981]."
19:21 "How could we have not attracted such companies as Lufthansa Teknik were it not for the reopening of the MCAST college, which had been closed down by the Labour government?"
19:19 "A cursory look at education statistics in this country shows us this achievement is the jewel in the crown of successive PN governments."
19:17 "The people gave us a mandate to govern, and that's what we will do, and I will say that we are proud of our achievements."
19:16 "A democracy demands that its parliament gives the government its confidence."
19:15 Deputy prime minister, Leader of the House Tonio Borg addressing the House.
19:14 "In the last Labour government, there were 3,000 less people in employment in those 22 months of government. On our part, we increased jobs in 2011 to 194,000. In these circumstances this parliament must offer a clear and unequivocal majority to this government."
19:11 "While the rest of the world is speaking about the economic crisis, we are debating stolen generators and VRT tests. We came to power in 2008 witnessing the worst financial crisis in history, and we dedicated ourselves to creating jobs, keeping unemployment levels down to 5.7% while the EU has an average 11%."
19:07 "This is a surreal motion... there are ten Opposition MPs, and some of them were indeed responsible, for the darkest chapters in the history of the police corps, which Labour was responsible for, which arrested people for over 48 years, interrogate and torture them to extract particular confessions... who were responsible for the Pietru Pawl Busuttil frame-up, the death of Raymond Caruana, who beat up Notary Cachia, Lino Incorvaja, and who were responsible for the death of Nardu Debono. You were responsible for that police corps and you were shameless in presenting a resignation motion against Carm Mifsud Bonnici because of the theft of a generator from the Civil Protection Department or because three police cars did not pass the VRT test."
19:07 Mario de Marco (PN) addressing the House.
19:06 "I am voting in favour of this confidence motion. Jobs may be important, but let's not treat it just as some mantra... we must focus on the important issues as well."
19:05 "I'm pleased that the prime minister took home affairs under his wing. The Opposition does not have a good track record in this area..."
19:04 "GonziPN was a good slogan, but as for governing style... I told them they had to go back to the people."
19:03 Franco Debono is now talking about Malta Independent managing editor Stephen Calleja: "He was turned down for a job at a ministry, because he had been after some girl there..."
19:02 "For Charlò Bonnici to criticise me on justice and home affairs is really something, he's certainly no expert on the subject."
19:00 "This parliament must be led by MPs, not by blogs... we need laws that allow people's dignity to be respected. The comments of Charlò Bonnici [the MP said Debono's position was now untenable] ... he got some 600 votes and I got double that... let me tell you something about Bonnici's teamwork: Bonnici had left the Louis Galea electoral campaign just a week before the elections."
18:58 Franco Debono thinks he is an expert on journalism as well, saying veteran PBS journalist Reno Bugeja was "off point" in his interview with Gonzi yesterday, and that he would have been fired if the questions came from a newbie reporter. Apparently Debono thinks the focus should have been justice and home affairs, not Gonzi's confidence vote.
18:56 "The reason we are here is because of the failure we experienced in justice and home affairs... my position was clear that I disagreed with Carm Mifsud Bonnici even as home affairs minister."
18:55 Franco Debono is claiming yesterday's Dissett did not deal with any of the issues concerning justice and home affairs.
18:53 "The majority of a government is not earned by running roughshod over everyone else. It's the politics of persuasion that wins a majority, not appeasement... does the fact I am authoring a party financing bill means I have been appeased. Isn't the embarrassment at GRECO [Council of Europe's group of countries against corruption] enough already, to merit a party financing bill?"
18:52 "I have had police officers guarding my residence because of the threats and insults I received."
18:50 "This country is not led by blogs... last week this House elevated itself back to the standards of democracy it merits. I am ready to help the prime minister in bringing about the necessary reforms. Jobs are important, but nothing is more important than human dignity. Jobs are a right, but meritocracy means that what is yours by right is yours, because this is what human dignity - and this is the basis of the society we are building."
18:49 "I hope the sacrifices I passed through in recent weeks will serve to create a strong institutional framework for this country... I am ready to help the prime minister in bringing about these institutional reforms, as I always have. I presented motions - even though some lazy journalists ascribe ulterior motives to my actions..."
18:48 Franco Debono (PN) addressing the House.
18:47 "The criteria for leaders, internationally, are values, integrity and energy... and the test for these qualities are reflected in the test of tonight's vote."
18:46 "This government knows that the consequences of losing this motion are early elections. But what are the consequences for Labour... an attack on government, if it wins tonight's motion, endangers democracy and is the height of arrogance."
18:45 "Would even the Opposition satisfy its own benchmark, with its political method of unabashed opportunism?"
18:44 "There is no lesson on benchmarks from Labour. This is the party that demolished the very benchmarks of democracy. This government has chose the very next day following last week's resignation motion to ask the House for a confirmation of its confidence in the government."
18:41 "It is a fact that this government's entire budget, for one ministry after another, were approved with a majority of this House."
18:40 Francis Zammit Dimech (PN) is now addressing the House.
18:39 "This is no run of the mill motion... today's vote is a clear message to the electorate that we are concentrating on national priorities."
18:37 "Today attracting foreign investment can only come to Malta if investors know that Malta has fiscal solidity... the Opposition must take note of this, especially when international financial announcements are used to raise doubts in the minds of foreign investors. The Opposition should be pulling the same rope... and yet the promises they are bandying about are chipping away at their credibility."
18:34 Lawrence Gonzi says Malta has the fourth-lowest unemployment figure in the EU, and is talking about the importance of capital projects for the creation of jobs. "What we are debating today is what we will be focusing our efforts on in the coming months, to create new projects that give Malta a quality leap in many economic sectors."
18:32 Lawrence Gonzi announces negotiations for the civil service collective agreement must be concluded within the next months, which will also deliver new working conditions and salary arrears to thousands of public sector employees.
18:28 "We have an agenda that directly affects people at present, and even for the coming future. We must keep working together for the creation of jobs. [On yesterday's Dissett] I was asked for how long are we going to persist in 'advertising' our claims of having created jobs. My answer is that the results of these last four years are the confirmation that our policies have delivered, even while the Opposition insists we are not governing well."
18:27 "Today we're sending a clear message to these families that we are working to their benefit."
18:24 "I want families to put their minds at rest that this government is working for them."
18:22 "Tonight's vote will give us a clear picture of where the national interest lies... what are families need. In politics, we tend to view politics without looking at the lives of people on their jobs and with their families. Their interests are that a government responds to their aspirations and sees to their quality of life."
18:21 "The circumstances necessitated that I ask for a clear, unequivocal, and unconditional vote of confidence in this government."
18:19 "I represent a political party which never had a problem in respecting the democratic will of the country, and I bowed down to the will of the motion of last week and its consequences, even though this motion was presented for reasons that are unjustifiable."
18:18 Lawrence Gonzi is presenting a run-down of events as they took place in recent weeks.
18:16 12 government MPs and five Opposition MPs are in the House as the Prime Minister opens the debate on the confidence motion. MP Franco Debono has just entered the House... speaks with government whip David Agius.
18:16 "What happened last week was the apex of the Opposition's mission to take politics to the pits... this motion is a criticism of the Opposition leader's unabashed opportunism. I think he has established a new benchmark that formally sealed a way of doing of politics, when he stated on record that the end justified the means."
18:15 "This motion is different from all others. It's not just a motion where the House is asked to give its confidence to the government, but is also a motion of no-confidence in the Opposition."
18:14 "What happened on 9 May has led to my decision to call for a new confidence vote, after minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici had to resign."
18:12 Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi is kicking off the debate on the confidence motion.
18:10 Good evening... we're in the House reporting tonight's confidence vote: keep the tweets coming in.
13:46 Vote in our online poll: who do you think should be home affairs minister?
13:45 Interesting piece of info from the Sunday Times, which says Debono is still paid his parliamentary assistant's emolument, which is just as well. But still, ironic that Debono is the prime minister's parliamentary assistant...
12:08 Nationalist MP Charlò Bonnici has replied to Franco Debono's comments: "I won't be threatened into silence by such regurgitated allegations. Aren't we living in a democracy where everyone is entitled to his opinon?"
Never have hashtags been so pained and strained. RT @JosephMuscat_JM: Tonight's #confidencevote will pass, the... fb.me/155prKuBf
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08:00 Prime Minister wants clear vote of confidence with no conditions