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[WATCH] Brushing off Busuttil’s challenge over offshore companies, PM lauds Labour’s ‘aspirational politics’

“I don’t need 24 hours. Don’t wait up. Just do what you have to do if you think you have a point to make,” Muscat tells Labour rally in Zejtun

Matthew Vella
28 February 2016, 11:46am
Last updated on 28 February 2016, 12:31pm
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat brushes off challenge to take political responsibility for the creation of an offshore company in Panama
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has brushed off a challenge by Opposition leader Simon Busuttil to take political responsibility for the creation of an offshore company in Panama by both his deputy leader for party affairs Konrad Mizzi, as well as his chief of staff Keith Schembri.

“I don’t need 24 hours. Don’t wait up. Just do what you have to do if you think you have a point to make,” Muscat said at a rally at the Labour club in Zejtun.

Energy minister Konrad Mizzi yesterday declared he had no assets in his offshore company and trust, which are respectvely owned and managed by trustees Orion Trust Ltd of New Zealand, and refuted suggestions that he was using the vehicle to hide its ownership and earnings, or to use low-tax jurisdictions.

Muscat instead today accused the Nationalist Party of attempting to plant a ‘dirty’ story to dampen turnout for Mizzi’s election as deputy leader for party affairs by party delegates, and challenged Busuttil to repeat allegations that Mizzi had a cash cow parked offshore, in public.

“I believe in honest politics. But don’t expect us not to remind you of what business you have been involved in, of what your colleagues are involved in,” he said, referring to trust businesses housed in legal firms with whom Busuttil and other Nationalist MPs have been involved with.

“These people expect that the PN represents the haves, while Labour represents the have-nots. But today we have a coalition propelled by aspiration, that helps people quench that thirst to achieve, whoever they are, whichever class they hail from, whatever work they are doing. This is who the Labour movement represents,” Muscat said.

“They want us back in the trenches, red against blue, just so they can say there is no difference between us when they see this country moving forward. In 2013 we tempered a historical divide because we showed that the people was united in its hopes for the future,” the Labour leader said.

Muscat also set much store by his govenemt’s record on civil iberties, hitting out at Busuttil’s delayed reaction on supporting the criminalisation of gay conversion therapy.

Konrad Mizzi addresses Labour rally

Greeted with raucous applause, Konrad Mizzi in his first speech to party faithful as deputy leader, announced a new media portal for the Labour Party that would replace as well as a consolidation of One News’s media offerings.

Mizzi also said that as minister, his role will involve coordinating issues between various ministries even if these don’t concern his portfolio – a ‘superminister’ role that could see him troubleshoot on various aspects of Cabinet business.

He accused Opposition leader Simon Busuttil of accusing him of harbouring large sums of money in his offshore company, without having the temerity of repeating his allegations outside parliament.

“Busuttil hides behind bloggers... I invited all journalists to give them full disclosure of my financial affairs, and they found not assets or money in the trust, which was created legitimately; the Panama company has not traded and it has not bank account,” Mizzi said.

Mizzi replayed his own story of aspiration, as a PhD candidate on a student loan who cut his teeth in the UK on non-stop working weeks as a consultant on energy. “We’re the party of aspiratoin of hope – we give the tools to those who want to succeed, and help those in need,” Mizzi said.

Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.