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[WATCH] Delia tells Muscat: ‘The government will not be dictating the opposition’s agenda’

The newly-elected Nationalist Party leader was replying to a series of questions put to him by Peppi Azzopardi at the Floriana granaries

yannick_pace
Yannick Pace
17 September 2017, 9:21pm
The new PN leader said the government would not be dictating the opposition's agenda
The new PN leader said the government would not be dictating the opposition's agenda
Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia has insisted that the government would not be dictating the opposition’s agenda during this legislature, after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning said that Delia’s first test as leader would be to reverse the party’s decision not to nominate a representative to the government’s waste-to-energy committee.

Delia was made the remarks during an interview with Xarabank presenter and television producer Peppi Azzopardi at the Floriana granaries, where a number of issues were discussed with the new leader. 

“As a matter of fact, the government will not be dictating the opposition’s agenda,” he said, insisting that any decision taken by the PN would first be discussed internally.  

“We are not the Labour Party, and the leader doesn’t just decide himself in the morning,” he continued.

Azzopardi pointed out the serious problem with waste management, and asked whether he was prepared to put it to parliamentary group, but Delia said that he first needed to find out more about what was being proposed.

Peppi Azzopardi (left) and Adrian Delia (right)
Peppi Azzopardi (left) and Adrian Delia (right)
He said that if the government was expecting the PN to nominate a token representative, “so that the committee could do whatever it wanted”, it would not be complying, adding that the PN was just as committed to protecting the environment.   

Parliamentary seat and a role for Chris Said

On whether he wanted Chris Said for the role of deputy leader, Delia said he would be meeting Said to talk about how they could work together.

He described the Gozitan MP as a competent person who was a competent and “administratively” capable person.

“I’m sure he will be there with us, all hands on deck to serve our party,” he said.

Pressed on the matter, Delia said that according to the party’s statue, post needed to be filled through an election, insisting that he believed in the democratic process.

Delia said that, as regards a parliamentary seat, which he is yet to secure, it would not be prudent for him to say anything beyond that the issue was being worked on and would definitely be resolved.

Commercialisation of prostitution

Delia, who arrived at the granaries to rapturous applause, and chants of “Delia Delia!” by those present, gave a confident display and seemed to leave the door open to a compromise with the government on the proposed prostitution reform.

Azzopardi asked whether - given that he had said the PN would oppose the reform under his watch - he felt that prostitutes should be in jail, or whether those who were looking for ‘that sort’ of relationship shouldn’t be able to find it.

“It’s impossible. Prostitution is not illegal,” intervened Delia, insisting that the proposed changes to the law would not be legalising prostitution, but would rather be allowing for the “commercialisation of people”.

The lawyer and political newcomer received a warm welcome as he arrived at the Floriana granaries
The lawyer and political newcomer received a warm welcome as he arrived at the Floriana granaries
He then said however that if the bill included “some protection of the person” then the opposition would have to discuss it and see what it entailed.

“The devil is in the detail,” he insisted. “If our amendments, that are effectively changing the sense of the law, are not accepted, we will not agree.”

Recreational Cannabis

Azzopardi said that despite not smoking or drinking himself, he could confidently state that drug laws had failed, and had, if anything, increased the number drugs users.

“The use of drugs, particularly from a young age, has been proved across the world, to leave adverse sociological effects,” he said.

MPs Cylde Puli and Hermann Schiavone were in good spirits
MPs Cylde Puli and Hermann Schiavone were in good spirits
Delia added that he was discussing the matter with professionals in order to understand it better, but stressed that if drugs law had failed, rather than rationalising and giving up, they needed to be improved.  

Migration

Azzopardi called Delia out for his assertion during the second leadership debate, that there were people from “the worst countries” committing crime in Malta, however Delia explained that his statement was referring to dangerous gangs in areas such as Bugibba.

“It useless to be theoretical about it and say there is no problem,” he said.

“If as a matter of fact that there are gangs from certain countries that are congregating in certain places, and it is useless saying there is no problem.”

He said that while under his leadership the PN would support Malta fulfilling its legal obligations to migrants, he said it people refusing to become part of a society and forming their own nucleus was a concern.  

The fight against corruption

Inevitably, Azzopardi brought up the allegations made by Daphne Caruana Galizia against Delia in the run up to the election, where she claimed, among other things, that Delia had knowingly been involved in the laundering of the proceeds of prostitution in London, and asked whether he was now prepared to go to the PN’s ethics committee and ask it to investigate.

“They are not allegations,” he said. “They are stories by one person intended to profit from an economic model where the longer a story goes on the money is earned from it. Earned from the pain of people, the hatred of people, and sowing division.”

He said the only people who believed what Caruana Galizia wrote were “blind disciples who have been reading her for 30 years”.

He went further, insisting that he could provide Azzopardi with a list of people who had passed on information to Caruana Galizia about the case on which she was making her allegations and which he said she had chosen not to publish because it “would have killed her story”.

Delia went on to say that under his watch, not only would the fight against corruption not stop, but it would “continue and become ever harsher”, because a situation had developed where constitutionally formed institutions were abdicating on their responsibility to protect the people.

When it was pointed out by Azzopardi that it was ironic that he had referred to allegations against Tourism minister Konrad Mizzi, which were made by Caruana Galizia, minutes after he said that she was not to be believed, Delia said Caruana Galizia could choose whether or not to say the truth, but he would nonetheless defend her right to do so. 

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