Hunting lobby resurrects call to make referenda harder to convene

After outrage over killing of four flamingos, FKNK calls on MPs to make abrogative referenda that could target spring hunting, more difficult to enact

Hunters celebrate the 2015 spring hunting referendum win in Qormi. Photo: John Pisani
Hunters celebrate the 2015 spring hunting referendum win in Qormi. Photo: John Pisani

Malta’s hunting lobby wants the parliamentary committee for petitions to push forward legal amendments presented in a petition signed by some 104,000 supporters.

The signature were collected in 2014, a year before the referendum for the abolition of spring hunting failed to garner enough votes to end hunting in spring.

The FKNK’s petition is intended at preventing the use of abrogative referendums, which can be held in Malta when backed by a certain percentage of eligible citizens, against what it claims are “minorities” – namely, the hunting community.

Malta’s Referendum Act allows referenda for the abrogation of laws if backed by a petition signed by 10% of the Maltese electorate.

The FKNK insists that the law should state that the signatures be collected in a specific time period, rather than an open-ended time-frame to collect the signatures.

In a bid to prevent another referendum against spring hunting, which is effectively only allowed by EU law under very specific conditions, the FKNK wants abrogative referenda to be first backed by 33% of electors – a tall order – and for an extension to the two-year limit until such time the same referendum can take place again.

“The FKNK is not against abrogative referenda, but want these suggestions to be taken up in a bid to prevent this legal tool from being capriciously used,” the FKNK said.

Over 44,000 signatures were submitted to petition for an abrogative referendum on spring hunting in 2014, when the 10% threshold was 33,418.

Opposition to hunting runs at 42.4% with Nationalist Party voters more likely to be against than Labour Party voters, a MaltaToday survey shows.

The findings show that 24.4% are in favour of hunting, while a substantial part of the population (28.9%) is neutral on the matter or unsure (3.5%).

Last week, a hunter was accused of killing four Greater Flamingos. Miguel Zammit, a 23-year-old from Gżira, pleaded not guilty, and was refused bail.