[LIVE] Busuttil says Muscat has lost moral authority

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil reacts to the Budget presented by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna last week • Follow speech here

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil (Photo: Ray Attard)
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil (Photo: Ray Attard)


20:45 "My only weapon is the truth and honesty" - Simon Busuttil ends his speech. Matthew Vella
20:43 Busuttil says the people can now see through Muscat's ploys and adds Jurgen Balzan
20:40 "Muscat is drunk on power and he is ready to do anything to retain and increase his power." Jurgen Balzan
20:40 "This government is built on lies... you either ask for forgiveness or just keep on lying. This government will not admit anything. Instead it says one lie after the other to do everything for power, even at the cost of its moral compass, of its ideals. This government is drunk on power." Matthew Vella
20:40 He adds Muscat has no leftist or rightist ideology, but "the ideology of power." Jurgen Balzan
20:39 Concluding his speech, the PN leader says government is built on lies. "They have a choice, either own up and apologise or live in denial and tell more lies." Jurgen Balzan
20:37 He says this is symptomatic of the “everything goes attitude” under Labour, adding that the driver was encouraged by the attitude taking a foothold in the country. He also says that the government’s reaction in the aftermath of the incident was littered with lies. Jurgen Balzan
20:34 “God forbid the shots went through the windscreen and the man was hit. It would have been tragic. Imagine, just for a moment it was your son behind the steering.” Jurgen Balzan
20:33 Mallia’s CV is thicker than the other ministers, with Busuttil listing the home affairs minister’s gaffes, starting with the €500,000 the minister held in cash at home to last week’s shoot out involving Mallia’s driver. Jurgen Balzan
20:30 After citing economy minister Chris Cardona’s interference in the award of a casino concession, Busuttil obviously turns his sights on home affairs minister Manuel Mallia, saying “where shall we start?” Jurgen Balzan

While accusing Bonnici of having failed to impeach former judge Lino Farrugia Sacco in order to allow him to retire, Busuttil says social dialogue minister Helena Dalli should shoulder responsibility for allowing works to go on at a property she owns despite not having the necessary permits.

Dalli had claimed that she wasn’t aware of the works, however Busuttil offers the minister some free legal advice telling her that the property still belongs to the original owner even if a promise of sale is signed.

Asking whether Konrad Mizzi’s wife Sai had found an office in China, Busuttil quips “if not we’ll send Willie Mangion to find a garage in China.”

This is turning into a who’s who on Labour’s mega-sized Cabinet with the PN leader listing the scandals and shortcomings of all ministers.

“You are weak in front of the abuse of power,” Busuttil tells Muscat and he goes on to quote the “all animals are equal” phrase in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Jurgen Balzan
20:18 The PN leader accuses justice minister Owen Bonnici of having failed to resign when undergoing investigations over a traffic accident. Jurgen Balzan
20:17 He hits out at the same MP for asking to oversee the award of all tenders issued by the Malta Sports Council, asking whether it was another case of conflict of interest. Jurgen Balzan
20:15 The speech is now turning into a political one addressing issues which aren’t budget related. He hits out at government MP Luciano Busuttil who allegedly interfered in the award of a tender by the Cospicua local council, which makes use of the MP’s legal advice. Jurgen Balzan
20:12 Accusing government of institutionalising nepotism, Busuttil says that since Muscat could not increase MPs wages since he had led a crusade against the honoraria increase in the previous legislature, Busuttil says Muscat chose to appoint his backbenchers on all boards imaginable.

He lists all backbenchers who earn more than ministers and in some cases more than the Prime Minister, adding that Muscat bought their silence by dishing out unprecedented appointments. “You’re feasting on the taxpayers’ money,” Busuttil says.

The PN leader reveals that a report compiled by the electoral commissioner and the ombudsman on MPs wages has been collecting dust for six months. He invites Muscat to publish the document tomorrow “unless you have something to hide.”

Jurgen Balzan
20:03 Addressing the diminishing trust in public institutions, Busuttil says “the culture of anything goes is creeping in as is the culture of clientelism. Give people their rights and their independence but do not allow people to depend on you.” Jurgen Balzan
20:00 “In order for this country to move forward, we need good governance. We might not agree on ideas but we all agree on the need of equality in front of the law, honesty and accountability.” Jurgen Balzan
19:57 Busuttil urges health minister Konrad Mizzi to concentrate on the problems afflicting patients rather than on the cement pillars. He also criticises the appointment of the new Mater Dei Hospital CEO who was previously employed as a clerk at Air Malta. Jurgen Balzan
19:54 Highlighting the plight of elderly people, Busuttil says that a shopping basket used in a study by Caritas Malta in 2012 is now €81 more expensive. Jurgen Balzan
19:52 He sheds doubts on the government’s socialist credentials by lashing out at the heavy language used in relation to people on social benefits. Last week finance minister Edward Scicluna said “being a single mother is not a profession.” < Jurgen Balzan
19:49 “What’s ironic is that the prime minister is paid €7,000 by the government to use his own car” Jurgen Balzan
19:47 The increase in vehicle licences and insurance policies more than balance out the €35 bonus he says, adding that motorists not only faced the daily difficulties of traffic congestion but they now be robbed of 22c when they fill their tanks since government chose to increase tax on fuels instead of reducing the prices further. Jurgen Balzan
19:38 The PN leader says pensioners and workers who did not enjoy a tax cut stand to lose. “What will people do with the €35 bonus? It’s not enough for a weekly visit to the grocery.” Jurgen Balzan
19:36 On the social measures announced last week, Busuttil who once described himself as a “social democrat” says “I’m no Socialist but I do have a social conscience and this budget does not distribute wealth in a just way.” Jurgen Balzan
19:34 Pointing out that the only projects in Gozo were the ones commenced by the previous PN government, Busuttil says that plans to build a bridge between Malta and Gozo was “frightening” and nothing but an attempt to deviate attention from Manuel Mallia’s driver shoot out.

He adds that the opposition was against the “vulgar” bridge which would be an eyesore but would be in favour of a tunnel linking the two islands as long as the project is viable. Jurgen Balzan

19:31 Busuttil points out that there was no mention of culture in the 2015 Budget and turning to Gozo, the PN leader invites Gozo minister Anton Refalo to do something new. Jurgen Balzan
19:29 Turning to the environment he rubbishes government’s green credentials and challenges environment minister to “stand up and defend the environment.”

He says the building permits issued in Outside Development Zone was a “big concern” adding that economic development should not come at an environmental price. Jurgen Balzan

19:28 Turning to the environment he rubbishes government’s green credentials and challenges environment minister to “stand up and defend the environment.” Jurgen Balzan
19:26 Busuttil says that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat can deny that he promised to resign if the power plant is not ready by March 2015, but Muscat’s declarations were recorded and the opposition had a duty to expose “the Prime Minister’s lies.” < Jurgen Balzan
19:19 Turning to the power plant and government’s failure to keep with its deadlines for the completion of the gas powered plant, Busuttil says that despite the marathon budget speech, government didn’t say when the project will commence and be completed.

He asks how will government fund the bill reductions if the power plant is not up and running, adding that if government is able to reduce bills without completing the plant “then do we really need a new power plant?” Jurgen Balzan

19:17 Busuttil says that works on the new parliament at City Gate will take longer than expected because the space between MPs seats and the microphone stand and desk is too small.

Hitting out at government’s “incompetence” at the planning of the new parliament which was the brainchild of the previous PN government, Busuttil quips that the opposition sent the horizontally challenged MP George Pullicino to try out the new seats.

Jurgen Balzan
19:10 Busuttil also lambasts government for employing over 4,000 people in the public sector which he says is unsustainable.

He now turns his attention to public transport, saying that the people are asking “what will happen to the deal with the Spanish operators?” He adds that traffic congestion is far from a perception and says that transport minister had promised to resolve the problem by removing bendy buses, horses and heavy vehicles from the roads.

As transport minister walks in the House, Busuttil says “here he is, he must have been caught up in traffic” adding that from now onwards he should be known as the Minister for Traffic.

Jurgen Balzan
19:01 The PN leader hits out at the meagre increase of €100,000 to the Malta Enterprise budget, which he says “hardly covers Sai Mizzi’s salary” in reference to energy minister Konrad Mizzi’s wife who is employed as a trade envoy in China. Jurgen Balzan
18:58 “The only new idea this government had since winning the election was the sale of passports…and Mr Prime Minister it’s not respectable to go around the world selling passports.” Jurgen Balzan
18:51 “Our critique of this budget is this…its positive that this government is building on the foundations laid by previous governments but we also need a government to identify and bolster new economic sectors. We expected new ideas on where government intends to take the country’s economy.” Jurgen Balzan
18:49 “Our critique of this budget is this…its positive that this government is building on the foundations laid by previous governments but we also need a government to identify and bolster new economic sectors. We expected new ideas on where government intends to take the country’s economy.” Jurgen Balzan
18:46 “You have said that I do not have a good grasp of economics, but should we reaveal that I corrected your thesis or that you have no understanding of the European Union. Cut the bluff, this is not a way to address the leader of the opposition and I’d rather go down a different road.” Jurgen Balzan
18:42 “This government is abusing of the public coffers and covering up deplorable facts.” Jurgen Balzan
18:41 Finally, silence returns to the House and Simon Busuttil opens his speech with a remark on the “unhappy incident” involving the home affairs minister’s driver saying “the government’s disguise is falling apart and the people are realising that the government is built on lies.” Jurgen Balzan
18:36 Half way into the 30 minute question time, all hell broke loose as home affairs minister Manuel Mallia was asked a supplementary question on the age of reinstated police officers, by government spokesperson Carmelo Abela on the incident involving his chauffer Paul Sheehan. As Mallia said that he was “terribly sorry” for the incident which saw his driver shoot at a car following a minor traffic accident, the opposition led by deputy leader Mario de Marco accused Mallia of avoiding questions on the matter by using up question time to talk on the matter. De Marco argued that the minister should make a ministerial statement on the matter, allowing the opposition to make all necessary questions. However, deputy Speaker Censu Galea allowed the minister to go ahead, with Mallia saying “I had no indication that any of the two security guards would make use of a weapon,” adding that he even trusted his daughter with the two chauffeurs. He went on to say that former home affairs minister, including the former PN deputy prime minister Guido de Marco enjoyed the same level of protection. This led to Mario de Marco raining a point of order. “Mallia should have learned from the late minister Guido de Marco that a minister should not cover up a criminal act.” But Mallia retorted that President emeritus Eddie Fenech Adami and former ambassador to the EU Richard Cachia Caruana had armed guards as did Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia for a short period of time. Mallia added “I reassure that at no moment I covered up or asked somebody to cover up for somebody else. If anyone is found guilty of this in my ministry I will ask for their immediate resignation…If anyone believes that we’re turning the clock back to the eighties, I must remind them that I was on the other side (Nationalist Party) defending victims of violence.” He added “I understand the opposition wants my head on a plate but I can reassure everyone that I had absolutely nothing to do with this incident and I did not cover up anything.” Jurgen Balzan