[WATCH] Busuttil urges Godfrey Farrugia to join Democratic Party, promises island region status for Gozo

As the Nationalist Party took the election campaign trail to Gozo, Simon Busuttil said PN's Gozo manifesto will include establishing Gozo as an island region and a €10,000 grant for couples and families settling in Gozo

On Day 3 of the election campaign, PN leader Simon Busuttil address party faithful in Gozo(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
On Day 3 of the election campaign, PN leader Simon Busuttil address party faithful in Gozo(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Simon Busuttil tonight urged Labour MP Godfrey Farrugia, who resigned as party whip last Saturday, and who earlier this afternoon announced he would not be running on the Labour ticket in the 3 June election – to join the Democratic Party which was contesting the election as part of the National Force with the Nationalist Party.

The PN leader, who was being interviewed in Xaghra in Gozo, said Farrugia was respected by everyone on both sides of the House of Parliament.

“To Godfrey I say this: You have already taken a very courageous step in deciding to run under Labour again, and I will not ask you to join the PN because I know you hold true to the real Labour Party values, but I now urge you to join the Democratic Party, and be part of this National Force that we have created,” Busuttil said.

In a Facebook post, Farrugia said he had decided to run in the upcoming election because he no longer felt he belonged in “what is calling itself the Labour Party”.

“Tomorrow I turn 57. This afternoon I have decided that it would not suit me to contest the election on the ticket of what is calling itself the Labour Party. I am a Labourite and I don't feel that my place is there,” he wrote.

Busuttil revealed that a new Nationalist government would be committing itself to recognising Gozo as an island region, with its own administrative council, and to have this distinction entrenched in the constitution.

The Nationalist Party leader said the Gozo Council would be separate from the Gozo ministry and would be able to negotiate and apply for EU finds directly.

Once established as an island region, Gozo could benefit from up to €250 million in EU funds, Busuttil said.

“I am very proud that the PN will be launching a separate electoral programme for Gozo – a first for Malta – that was drawn up in Gozo and not inside the party’s headquarter,” he said.

“Let us not forget that the Joseph Muscat’s government did absolutely nothing in and for Gozo, except for opening a single lavatory in Hondoq ir-Rummien, despite promising a casino, a cruise liner terminal, a yacht marina and old people’s home, to mention but a few unfulfilled promises.”

Busuttil said the PN will also be proposing a €10,000 grant for all young Gozo couples who decide to build a family in Gozo and Maltese couples and families who choose to resettle in Gozo.

He also promised that upon taking the oath as prime minister and appointing his cabinet, he would immediately instruct the newly-appointed minister for Gozo to head directly to the Gozo hospital – now privatised and under the management of Vitals Global Healthcare – to let everyone know that the government would be taking the hospital back.

“I want to make it clear that that hospital is ours, that we will take it back and it will come to belong to Gozitans once again,” Busuttil said.

With regards to a permanent link between Malta and Gozo, the PN leader said that if geological studies showed that an underwater tunnel was feasible, a PN government would start works at the earliest possible moment, and not wait years.

“But in the meantime, my government will immediately set into motion plans to introduce a fast ferry service between the islands and reintroduce the mercantile maritime service that this government saw fit to cancel,” Busuttil said.

Busuttil said that Gozitans, like everyone in Malta, had come to realise that Joseph Muscat was all talk but no action.

“He promised us zero tolerance on corruption but instead delivered a 100% tolerance of corruption,” he said. “The only thing Joseph Muscat cannot promise anyone is honesty and integrity because for the past four years he couldn’t care less about these values.”