‘We speak with one voice’, says Cacopardo of new AD+PD formation

AD+PD Chairman Carmel Cacopardo talks roads, cars, migration and SOFA as newly-formed party holds its first AGM.

AD+PD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo
AD+PD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo

AD+PD chairman Carmel Cacopardo said the new political party – a merger of Alternattiva Demokratika and the Partit Demokratiku – was over a year in the making, as he addressed the party’s first General Meeting.

“We have been discussing it for over a year. We cooperated together in elections and over the past few months spoke with one voice in anticipation of today,” said the veteran Green politician, with reference to the merger.

Speaking at the virtual meeting this afternoon, Cacopardo said although the party would always give the environment priority, this did not mean that it was only interested in the environment.

“We always put the environment at the centre of our politics, but it doesn’t mean that we only speak about the environment. It is the medium to gauge the quality of life, the more of one the more of the other, he said.”

The party would be exploring the possibility of online broadcasts, he said, because the public broadcaster rationed his party’s airtime and the other party TV and radio stations “only give us access when it suits them.”

On the issue of illegal immigration, Cacopardo said “We can never say our country is full up, not because we don’t feel the weight of immigration, but because of our geographical location,” he said. Cacopardo pointed out that EU countries sometimes helped absorb migrants, but said a long term agreement was required to address this problem. As Greens, AD had done a lot of work on the Dublin accord, he said, adding that often it is governments which hold progress back.

He noted with satisfaction that proposals for LGBTIQ rights, which his party had been the lone champion of in 2013, had later been adopted. Cacopardo said that the issue was now being used for political point-scoring.

Malta had to give weight to climate change, said Cacopardo, adding that he expected a budget speech tackling climate-change related issues. He pointed to his party’s 2017 proposal for a moratorium on the importation of petrol and diesel powered cars, saying that the government had taken this on shortly after the election and has now been waiting for a PWC report on the proposal for over two years.

“We can’t speak of Paris accord obligations and then make decisions contrary to them,” he warned, referring to large-scale road building projects which are currently being undertaken. One of them, the Central Link project, explained Cacopardo, had taken over arable land, affecting the livelihoods of several farmers.

“The more massive road projects we make the more cars we will have. The investment should be in sustainable transport,” Cacopardo said. The switch to gas powered power stations was important but so is this, he said. “The size of our island means that the switch to electric cars is important but so is reducing the number of cars.” It is possible to work with efficient public transport in such a small country, he added.

His party had also spoken out against SOFA, Cacopardo said, highlighting the fact that it had ended up being shelved due to public outcry, prompted by AD+PD and the progressive part of the labour party, he said.

The way forward was a difficult one, admitted Cacopardo. “We don’t have a red carpet laid out, we depend on volunteers… including those who work behind the scenes.” In preparing for the next General Election, they needed assistance in every sector, he said.

He also thanked his PD counterparts. “We can now present ourselves as a single front to the electorate and avoid the dilution of votes,” he said, adding that the parties had already started working together before the union had been made official.

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