Muscat pledges to remove parliamentary privilege if elected

The Prime Minister said it was time for politicians to be held accountable for their actions

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat has said that a new Labour government led by him would seek to remove parliamentary privilege in the next legislature.

“We can’t get used to a situation where politicians shoot from the hip and make allegations that are pure fantasy and think they shouldn’t take responsibility for it,” he said.

Muscat was speaking at the final session of the Labour Party congress, where said that that the reform would ensure that no citizen could be named in the country’s highest institution without being able to protect his or her reputation.  

“Today I know what it means when someone lies about you, and you must make an effort to clear your name and the name of our country from an attack by those who should know better,” said Muscat, adding that there was a political price that needed to be paid.   

The Prime Minister again said that if the Egrant inquiry were to find he was in any way connected to the company, that he would immediately resign.

“I say this with serenity because I am convinced I am saying the truth and I know I have nothing to hide,” he said. “I am, on the other hand, surprised because he who even put posters up, saying he wants me to go to jail, today said he was not ready to resign.”

Muscat hit out at the Nationalist Party (PN) for “trying to instil division” among the people of the country, emphasising the need to “heal the wounds” of the division sown.

“We are above all Maltese and Gozitans and we have more that unites us than that divides us,” he said.

If elected to a second term, Muscat said he believes the country could make a ”liberal leap forward”, arguing that the PN did not truly believe in the liberal changes the country has seen over the past years.

“In the next legislature, I believe the country can make a liberal leap forward,” he said. “Yes, we were ambitious and challenged the conservative establishment, but we must be bolder in the next legislature.”

According to the Prime Minister, the ‘Forza Nazzjonali’ coalition was only united by their hatred of him, and had presented the country with a “hotch potch” of ideas, rather than a coherent plan.

“On the other hand, the nation has a determined government with clear proposals and clearer principles,” he added.

Following discussions within a number of Labour Party workshops, Muscat said the party now had a clear direction for its manifesto, which he said would be more ambitious than it was four years ago.

“From the discussions and consultations of the past weeks I feel we can put forward proposals guided by four basic principles,” he said. “Social mobility, social justice, equality and unity.”

He spoke of his desire for a country where “every young man and woman could dream” and have the opportunity to move further in life than their parents had. This, he said, could only be possible if there was a functioning economy that was able to generate and distribute wealth.

He said that the government had succeeded in showing the nation, and Europe, that it was possible to achieve economic success while also being socially just.

“We are not a movement that wants to create wealth just for the sake of it, nor are we a populist movement that promises everything to everyone. We are a realistic movement that creates wealth and distributes it,” insisted Muscat.

He said the government had worked hard to help those who were struggling and to remove stigma associated with certain life situations.

“We have an obligation to ensure they do not fall further back,” said Muscat.

Turning to equality, the Prime Minister said government had focused, and would continue to focus on education, through which every boy and girl, irrespective of their background could one day “lead the country“.

“Equality, above all, means removing every trace of discrimination in this country,” said Muscat, adding that a government led by him would work hard to ensure equality between the sexes, starting with the introduction of quotas for women form the following legislature.  

Finally, he said that if elected, his government would move to put same sex marriages on par with marriage between a man and woman within the first weeks of the legislature.