[WATCH] Nothing wrong with wanting the best for Maltese people, Muscat insists

The Prime Minister also stressed the politicians needed to be responsible as anti-foreigner rhetoric risked leading Malta down a path similar to Brexit

Wanting the best for the Maltese people is nothing to be ashamed about, but this should not translate into making foreigners out to be the enemy, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Friday.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a political activity in Ħal Għaxaq, one the same day that he was criticised by various segments of civil society, for stating that he wanted to see foreigner working unskilled jobs.

“In jobs where perhaps Maltese aren’t qualified enough and we need foreigners, we will bring foreigners,” he said. “But the work that Maltese people no longer want to do, they no longer want to do.”

He argued that parents who spent their life chasing their children to study and get a good education, did so with the expectation that their children would get a good job.

He said it was only natural for those who had studied and obtained certain qualifications to want to work in their respective fields.

“But someone must do [unwanted] jobs, they aren’t going to do themselves. And this is also why we need foreigners, foreigners in high jobs and foreigners doing humbler jobs.”

He said that over the course of his life he had done many different jobs, including humbler jobs. “Every job has its dignity, but I have no trouble telling our children that they should move forward in life.”  

Nobody can control migration between member states   

Asked how Malta was preparing for when the UK left the European Union, Muscat again cast doubt on whether this would actually happen. “If it leaves, would say, but anyway, we’re not going to go there,” Muscat said.

Despite this, he said Malta was prepared for any Brexit eventuality.

“A point I would like to make on Brexit is to show people what irresponsible politicians, who make people believe unrealistic things, can lead to,” he said, accusing the PN leader Adrian Delia of stoking a fear of foreigners.

“He has made foreigners the enemy,” Muscat said, insisting that unlike what Delia was trying suggest, there could be not quota on the number of EU nationals who came to Malta.

Those, he said, were the EU’s rules and that similarly, nobody could stop Maltese citizens from moving to another European country.

“The last country where politicians spent years feeding this type of rhetoric and people believed it was England, and look at where they’ve ended up. Speaking to themselves,” he said. “And this is a strong and powerful country like England…they’ve ended up in a position where they are questioning what they’ve done with their own hands.”

For this reason, he said, people should not be allowed to believe that foreigners were the enemy. Ultimately, he said that people went to countries where they could find opportunities, and not the other way round.

READ MORE: Prime Minister’s comments on foreign workers anything but socialist - Graffitti

PN’s ‘U-turn’ on Gozo tunnel

Turning to yesterday’s debate, Muscat said it was clear that Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia was not committed to the Gozo tunnel.

“This has nothing to do with the tunnel, but rather it is a symptom of a Nationalist Party that is no longer trustworthy,” Muscat said.

“Yesterday the leader of the Opposition, out of nowhere, said he has doubts about the tunnel, and that he agrees that the studies should be carried out before a decision is taken,” Muscat said.

Delia’s statement yesterday, Muscat said, contradicted the PN’s vote in parliament in favour of the tunnel last month.

“I can’t understand how you can make such a big U-turn in just a few weeks, but beyond this, it is a testament to how unreliable the Opposition is,” Muscat said.

The PN, he said, was good at promising things, but when push came to shove, it rarely followed through. “In 2008 they won by the slimmest of majorities because they said they would be reducing income tax only for them to go back on their promise just four months later.”

He insisted that the permanent link to Gozo had originally been proposed by the Nationalist Party back in 2011, with the proposal being included in both the party’s 2013 and 2017 electoral manifestos. 

“In every budget in the last legislature, Simon Busuttil would attack the government for not having started work on the tunnel,” he said, adding that the government would consistently reply that it was still studying the feasibility of the project.

“They used to tell us we were just making excuses,” Muscat continued, arguing that now that the major geological studies had been completed and showed that the project could be carried out, it appeared that the PN was getting cold feet.

READ MORE: Joseph Muscat and Adrian Delia spar in calm debate

Unlike the PN, he said the Labour Party had in 2013 pledged to study the feasibility of the project, only pledging to carry out the project in 2017, once it knew that it was possible.  

Time to take local sports to the next level

Muscat also touched up the national sports strategy, which he said would be helping sports clubs raise the bar in their respective disciplines.

He said that while he agreed with sports popularization, it was now time for the next step. 

“I want federations to come to us and tell us their plan. Not what they want to build, that is the simplest and easiest thing…What I want to know is what are we going to get in return for this investment,” he said.

The next step, he said, was identifying those disciplines where Malta could do well, such as water polo, where he said a plan had been in place for a number of years now.

He said he wanted a plan to be in place where, for example, each federation that plan for the number youngsters it would recruit and how many of these recruits would eventually make it to the top.

“If they tell us that [out of those recruits] 50 will continue to practice the sport, and out of those 50, ten a year are of a good level, and of those ten every year we have two athletes who in ten years can give us a national team that is among the best 20 in Europe, that is what I call a plan. It's a realistic plan and one where the government will bring out its cheque book  and give those associations money.”

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