Joseph Muscat lays out Labour’s vision of social justice

Attacking the government’s social justice credentials, Labour leader Jospeh Muscat vows to remove income tax on lower earners, reduce utility bills and guarantee stability.

Labour leader Joseph Muscat
Labour leader Joseph Muscat

In his reply to the 2013 Budget presented last week, Labour leader Joseph Muscat ferociously attacked the Nationalist government's social justice credentials and promised to bring certainty and stability. However, despite saying that government's failure to widen the tax bands was "anti-social," the Labour leader reiterated his pledge to maintain the tax-cuts together with other "positive" measures introduced by the Nationalist administration.

Lacking any concrete proposals, Muscat's address focused on why the Nationalist government cannot be taken seriously, stressing that the people could put their mind at rest because a new Labour government "will mean action and not empty words."

Speaking in Parliament, Muscat said Labour is the natural home for liberals and vowed to create a new middle class and promote social mobility.

Without revealing Labour's proposed measures in a variety of sectors such as energy, job creation and balancing the deficit, Muscat said a new government will guarantee "stability and certainty."

In one of the few tangible pledges in his two-hour speech, Muscat said a new Labour government will ensure that minimum wage earners do not pay any income tax.

"We will do so through a provision. In doing so we will abide to the principle of taking nothing away from who earned something while keeping in mind those who were forgotten," Muscat said. He added that this proves that a new government will be socially just.

Describing the government's decision to tax persons on a minimum wage as "anti-social," Muscat accused the Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi of having "zero credibility" and said that while the Nationalist government's budget taxed minimum wage earners, high earners saw a reduction in income tax.

Muscat added that a new Labour government will not increase the pensionable age and provide funding for the training of staff who will be responsible for Malta's EU presidency in 2017. 

Insisting that Labour will vote against the budget, Muscat said that the decision to tax minimum wage earners alone was reason enough to vote against the budget.

Muscat said: "I believe that even those who gained something are conscious that things were not done well and demand that social justice is done with the weakest."

Saying that Labour "can never vote for such a social abomination", Muscat said that the Opposition will not vote for the budget because it has no confidence in the government and the Prime Minister.

Shifting the blame on the Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, Muscat said: "If the budget is not approved and the country will enter the New Year without a budget, the blame must be shouldered by the Prime Minister and his leadership style."

Speaking on Labour's pledge to reduce utility bills, Muscat said when time is ripe the Opposition will explain how, when and by how much utility bills will be reduced.

"Everybody can put their mind at rest, we are action and not empty words...we will not introduce new taxes or burden the country with further expenses but we will implement a coherent energy policy," Muscat said.

Alluding to the Sargas, carbon capture technology power plant, Muscat said that the government first dismissed the option then admitted that it could reduce utility bills.

"Utility bills can and we will reduce them. I am aware that if we are voted in government it will be one of our sternest tests. I promise it because I know that I will implement it, because I can implement it," Muscat said.   

Accusing the government of having lost its energy and drive, Muscat said the Nationalist administration "is busy dealing with the divisions within its own ranks. An ever shrinking clique which is incapable of keeping its word and which has replaced dialogue with arrogance. Arrogance has become the order of the day and Maltese families and businesses want change."

Insisting that the PN cannot provide the change, Muscat said: "The change can only happen if there is a change government, lock, stock and barrel." 

He added that "this was more of a budget presented by a party desperately trying to hang on to power then a government budget."

On the other hand, Muscat said Labour understands the aspirations of the young, workers, the self-employed, the middle class and pensioners.

JM is as usual promising everything to everyone. No surprises here, opposition parties do just that, but there are limits to empty promises. The more one promises the more one has to deliver. One can always be hoist by his own petard.
Maltese; First question: Are you truly Maltese ? If you are Maltese, how can you support GonziPN after Dr. Muscat gave you ALL THE FACTS how Dr. Gonzi & his ministers, have squandered over €600 million in over-runs on projects, a litany of scandals - the worst one, revealed by the Auditor General. where a €1 million project ended up costing €29 million and so much more ! Dr. MUscat's great speech has shown what an intelligent , genuine, and dynamic leader and prime minister we would have once the majority of the people give him their trust !
Lacking any concrete proposals - In one of the few tangible pledges - Without revealing Labour's proposed measures - three expressions which show Jugen's bias against the Labour Party. Proposals mentioned by Dr. Muscat yesterday, apart from the issue of the minimum wage, include (a)retirement age will not be increased to 67 (b) COLA increases will be given retroactively from JaN 1 - (c) will build residences for people with disabilities to give peace of mind to their parents after their death (d)will allocate funds immediately in preparation for Malta's presidency of the EU in 2017. Arent' these concrete proposals?
Empty words by Joseph Muscat. He is promising everything to everyone. This is ridiculous. Is he serious? He will do just like Alfred Sant who introduced 33 new taxes in 1996.
How come during the evening's program'TVHemm' Norman Vella was always asking questions about the proposals of Dr Muscat and not what Dr Muscat criticized? Michael Brigulio was right to question Mr Vella's motives. Was Mr Vella afraid that the audience might get a glimpse of GonziPN's malfatti and disfatti. After all Muscats speech was a criticism of the speech by the Prime Minister;it has always been like that.The Broadcasting Authority should emphasize that moderators should never take a side and should leave their partisan agenda at home!
Do not ever believe PN that by changing some faces we will have a change in government. The core is still there. We need a complete change form PN to PL