Grech to hunters: referendum vote will be respected by PN

PN leader urges voters to leave partisan prejudice behind and vote PN for good of the country

PN Leader Bernard Grech on Saturday (Photo: PN)
PN Leader Bernard Grech on Saturday (Photo: PN)

PN leader Bernard Grech made a commitment to hunters that the referendum vote in favour of Spring hunting will be respected.

Although he started off this part of his speech by praising the continued efforts of environmentalists, Grech went on to say that traditions also had to be respected.

“Are we going to cast doubt on referenda?” he asked, explaining that this approach to referenda would also put Malta’s decision to apply for EU membership in doubt.

He urged the people of Malta and Gozo to put partisan prejudices behind them and vote PN for the good of the country.

“Forget [party] colours and choose only the red and white of this country’s flag. Lend me your trust,” Grech said in his concluding remarks to a pre-election rally at St. Peter and St Paul square in Nadur, Gozo on Saturday evening. This was the second rally in Gozo of the Opposition leader’s campaign.

In his hour-long address Grech poked fun at current Prime Minister Robert Abela’s recent form. “I have no problem meeting people, I have no problem answering questions from journalists…,” Grech said, referring to Abela’s press-dodging hurried exit from an event at SR Technics on Thursday. Grech said he didn’t have the “skeletons in his closet” that were catching up to his counterpart.

Highlighting the work of PN ministers for Gozo in past administrations, Grech repeated his promise of specialised courses at a Gozo campus for his proposal for 10 new economic sectors.

“Will be building a branch of Malta Enterprise to encourage business in Gozo. The PL had poured scorn on this at first because they have no proposals of their own."

“They said it already exists. But we know the damage you did by giving it to your friends so you can become millionaires!” Grech said as the crowd applauded.

“We don’t want something that just exists but something that really works. We aren’t after the politics of posters” he said, pointing out that the minister who had mocked the proposal was not contesting the election.

New Gozo channel ferry

The last Gozo channel ferry purchased by the government would be replaced by a PN government. “It doesn’t suit you. We don’t want a scrap ship!” One ship would be a dedicated cargo ferry operating between the Grand Harbour and Mgarr port in Gozo," he said.

Grech also promised to enlarge Mgarr port by reclaiming land from the sea, saying that this would help business and would allow Gozitan soldiers to work on their home island.

PN to declare Gozo an 'island region' governed by regional council

Turning his guns once again on Labour’s so-far uninspiring electoral campaign, Grech accused the governing party of being out of ideas. “They have no ideas or solutions. They have lost their creativity. All they have are lies and attacks,” Grech charged.

One of the PN’s proposals for Gozo is to declare it an “island region” governed by a regional council composed of Gozitans, Grech said, stressing that the PN “believed in sharing leadership with the people.”

“We believe so much in subsidiarity, that it was the PN who introduced [the concept of] local councils. Other parties not only were against the idea but boycotted them at first!”

New Gozo hospital

Asked what the PN would do for healthcare in Gozo, Grech began by pointing out that “although everyone knows that the Vitals deal was corrupt and unfit for purpose, such that even those who made the deal were criticising it, they [Labour] hadn’t rescinded it.”

Grech made a direct appeal to undecided voters, saying “you know that healthcare in Gozo has gone downhill….your only choice is the PN. If you trust me to take decisions, I give you my word that the deal will be scrapped and you will have a new 400 bed hospital, because you deserve the best!”

The Community Work Scheme debacle

Grech promised “equal pay for equal work” as he spoke about the situation currently faced by around 300 employees in Gozo who after enrolling in the General Workers’ Union’s employment scheme, found themselves working for contractors instead of the government employment they had expected.

“Today many of these workers realised that they had been tricked. They thought they were employed by government but were, in fact, employed by contractors.

This government had promised to eradicate precarious employment, and it is employing people precariously itself!” Grech exclaimed.

They would be really be employed by the government if the PN was elected, he continued, promising “equal pay for equal work. A decent pay for the precious work you do.”

FATF greylisting

Robert Abela’s mask was falling, he told the crowd, saying that their choice was between the party which had put Malta in Europe and “someone who put us in a problematic situation, like greylisting.”

Grech accused Abela of trying to take credit for Malta’s painful progress in getting out of the FATF’s bad books. “Robert Abela stole your country’s reputation. Now that we’re slowly getting out of greylisting he is trying to take the credit!” Grech said. "Choosing the PN would mean a guaranteed solution to these problems," he went on.

"Malta was not out of the woods with regards to its greylisting," Grech said, conceding that a lot of work had been done to fix it and some progress had been made. “But this work, the forms you need to fill in, the extra work. This is all thanks to Robert Abela,” he said.

“Malta is the only European country on the greylist. Look what shame you have brought on your country,” the PN leader said.

“Give your trust to me to regain the credibility [we need] to get out of the grey list. Reputation is the key. Then we will be able to build the 10 new sectors…for your children,” Grech told his supporters.

“The damage is done. It was done by Robert Abela and his team who only want to stay in power for the money. So if you want to get rid of this gang…you must take the step of voting for the PN.”

Grech remarked that it was “clear” that the PL’s electoral program was not yet ready and that they were still playing catchup with the PN. “He [Abela] decided to go out running but left his shoes at home…their electoral program not ready yet and all they’re doing is copying us.”

The few original proposals being made by Labour were being mocked, he added. “They’re trying to pull rabbits out of hats at this stage,” Grech said, pointing at the PL’s electoral promise of abolishing homework for pupils and highlighting that it had also been criticised by UHM. “Are you going to continue trying to deceive people?” Grech asked.