PN will not support Joseph Azzopardi nomination for Standards Commissioner

Such appointments need cross-party backing with a two-thirds majority in parliament

PN leader Bernard Grech (Photo:PN)
PN leader Bernard Grech (Photo:PN)

The Nationalist Party will not support the nomination of Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Azzopardi for the position of Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, PN leader Bernard Grech asserted on Sunday.

Interviewed on the party-owned Net News, Grech accused Prime Minister Robert Abela of leaking the names of the candidates to the press. He insisted that he always made sure to keep the names secret.

“He is arrogant and he always wants things to go his way. Just because Abela is the prime minister, that does not mean that he can do as he wants,” Grech said.

He added that the PN will still back the nomination of Judge Emeritus Joseph Zammit McKeon for the position of Ombudsman.

Appointments for certain positions, including that of the Standards Commissioner and Ombudsman, need a two-thirds majority in parliament, and in turn require cross-party backing.

Grech maintained that Abela refused to compromise with the Opposition. “I have been chasing him for a year and a half.”

“Now that he decided on a name, he only wants that. That’s not democracy. We have our reasons for disagreeing with this nomination. Is he doing this so that the post stays vacant?” he questioned.

The Labour Party issued a short statement to Grech’s claims soon after his interview. “Today, the Opposition leader showed again that you never know where you stand with him, and that he’s not the one leading the Nationalist Party.”

Trickle-down arrogance

Grech turned to recent incident in parliament when Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia missed a parliamentary session despite being in the parliament building.

He said ministers, like Farrugia have an obligation to answer questions put to them in parliament by the Opposition.

“If [Farrugia] told the Whip that he was on business when he wasn’t, then he lied. If the Whip was trying to protect Farrugia, then he lied to parliament. Either way, this is not on,” he said.

This parliamentary sitting had to be temporarily suspended after Opposition MPs questioned why Farrugia was not present to reply to questions concerning a video that showed two Transport Malta officials beating up a man in Marsa.

Anġlu Farrugia, Speaker of the House, scolded Farrugia for not turning up despite being in the parliament building. He issued a ruling the day after, saying that he wanted to “send a clear message” on the importance of attending parliamentary sitting.

Labour whip and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici had been answering questions on Farrugia’s behalf. But Grech said Bonnici has his own scandals to answer to, referring to the sexual harassment scandal at the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.

Grech said that it was unacceptable for the minister to try and hide these allegations by trying to contact a journalist and convince them that the narrative was different.

Position on abortion amendment still being drafted

Grech accused the Labour Party of being “a party of failed reforms”, after Robert Abela hailed Labour as a “party of reforms” at the party’s general conference on Saturday.

Grech said the cannabis law was proof that the PN was right in its criticism of the reform. Initially, the party was in favour of cannabis reform, having welcomed plans to introduce cannabis-growing membership clubs. But a week after this, the PN parliamentary group insisted that the Bill will normalise and increase drug abuse.

On new abortion law changes, Grech said that the PN will set its position on the reform once the bill is made public.