100 ideas to inspire change and progress inside Labour

It is time our nation makes the next leap forward: improving our natural environment, the quality of our life, work and education, and truly turn Malta into a republic where everyone has the same opportunity to drive change and progress

Usually, when an organisation commemorates an anniversary, the focus is on past achievements. The Labour Party has instead launched an initiative to generate 100 ideas to inspire its vision.

Malta today is unrecognisable from the Malta of the 1920s. Instead of a fortress economy under foreign occupation with very little role for women, workers and those on low income, we are now a very politically active republic, an advanced economy with good social welfare. We owe these changes to the courageous visionaries who were willing to fight for this vision against the conservative forces who resisted change.

To celebrate fittingly this progressive legacy, like the diverse group who started our movement a hundred years ago, the persons guiding this consultation come from different backgrounds. I am pleased that two of the three in charge of the process, together with half of the policy leads, are women. For our society to really offer fair opportunities to all, policymaking has to stop being the preserve of a particular social group.

Many of the themes the group have chosen are close to my heart. For instance, as a progressive, I am very much interested in the type of economic growth we have. The prosperity our nation generates has to spread more equitably and result in higher quality jobs. For this to happen we have to revolutionise our education system, changing it radically in method and scope. We need a more skills/capability-based perspective and a shift to a lifelong/non-linear approach.

While welcoming recent reforms in social welfare to make it more dynamic, we need more changes. We need to adjust to new realities like the gig economy and the increase of the self-employed or multiple part-time phenomenon. Otherwise, many, especially women working in services, can slip through our social safety net.

In our country we see environmental deterioration as the inevitable price of economic growth. This is a line of thinking that needs to be combated. Many countries have shown how environmental protection is itself an engine of economic growth.

We have to increase reliance on renewable energy sources. This investment should be actively pushed by government, and I am sure that both individuals and institutions would be more than willing to buy the green bonds that could be used to finance this transformation.

Similarly, we should improve the quality of our drinking water to eliminate dependence on bottled water, and reduce one of the main sources of plastic waste. We should aim to have public drinking water fountains of the best quality.

We need policies to help us change our lifestyles, especially our reliance on private cars. Besides developing a mass transit system, we should reduce the need to travel. While incentivising teleworking, we should create an environment where businesses stop locating themselves in just a couple of localities.

Our nation needs to recycle more and we should abolish the concept of waste. It is a great shame that we throw away so much, including so much construction material.

Our living spaces need to be enhanced. We have too few open spaces, and many of these are not suitable for our climate. We need more trees and more shaded spaces where we can enjoy the outdoors.

It is important to have national parks, but it is also important to bring green spaces directly into our communities. We need urban gardens and green areas. We need places where our children can care for animals, especially abandoned ones, such as animal-friendly beaches.

It should not just be the task of government to build this green infrastructure, and the private sector should be given tax incentives or other benefits if it opts to develop sites in this way.

I welcome all the recent investment that has been done in early-age childcare. It has really made a difference to working mothers. However, very soon working women will face the choice not just between taking care of their children or working, but also between taking care of their parents or working. Our country needs to change its long-term care strategy. We need to create the right conditions and infrastructure for assisted independent living, or else we risk jeopardising the progress made in achieving gender equality in the labour market.

I truly believe that we have the opportunity to build a much better tomorrow for our children. I encourage as many women as possible to participate in this exercise. In the last decades female graduates have exceeded males, and yet the number of women leading or driving change in our country has remained very limited.

It is time that our nation makes the next leap forward. Improving our natural environment, the quality of our life, work and education, and truly turn Malta into a republic where everyone has the same opportunity to drive change and progress.

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