Former BirdLife director: ‘Busuttil had said he was against spring hunting’

Former BirdLife director says Simon Busuttil had told BirdLife Malta that he was against spring hunting ahead of the 2015 referendum 

Former BirdLife director Tolga Temuge (Photo: Ray Attard)
Former BirdLife director Tolga Temuge (Photo: Ray Attard)

Correction: Simon Busuttil's comments were made to BirdLife Malta during the referendum campagin in 2015. Tolga Temuge left BirdLife in 2010.

PN leader Simon Busuttil had told BirdLife Malta that he was against spring hunting, a former director of the green NGO has claimed.

In a Facebook post, Tolga Temuge – who was BirdLife’s executive director between 2006 and 2011 – said that Busuttil had let his feelings known during a meeting with BirdLife’s then-director Steve Micklewright ahead of the 2015 spring hunting referendum.

“Before the spring hunting referendum, he told the BirdLife director at the time that he was against spring hunting but conservationists did not want the issue to be politicized and asked him to remain silent,” Temuge wrote. “He then went public stating that he would vote in favour of spring hunting. Now he tells his coalition partners that he will not allow spring hunting if he is elected Prime Minister but again goes public in favour of spring hunting.

“Political flip-flop at its best.”

Temuge also accused Busuttil of lying in the past as a MEP, when he had insisted that Malta’s EU Accession Treaty had included a clause allowing Malta to open hunting in spring.

“As an MEP at the time, he knew very well that this was not the case at all. But he lied.”

Addressing a political activity in Siggiewi on Sunday, Busuttil recounted how he had “voted with the hunters” in the 2015 spring hunting referendum because he had “given his word” to them 12 years earlier when Malta joined the European Union.

During membership negotiations, the Maltese government had informed the Commission of its intention to allow spring hunting by applying a derogation under the Birds Directive.

Busuttil had come out in favour of spring hunting in the 2015 referendum campaign, but the Labour Party cast doubt on his convictions by noting that he had taken a week to declare his intention.

The old wounds have now been opened again, triggered by Busuttil’s recent pledge to introduce propositional referenda, which will allow people to invoke a referendum to introduce laws, under the same parameters which forced the abrogative referendum against spring hunting.

Hunting lobby FKNK warned that propositional referenda could be used as another tool to eradicate hunting and trapping in Malta and said it was surprised that the PN has come up with that proposal.

Green Party Alternattiva Demokratika hit out at Busuttil’s spring hunting declaration, arguing that it betrays his hypocrisy over the environment and the fact that “he will do anything for votes”.

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