‘Prime Minister avoiding reality’ – Labour leader

Lawrence Gonzi presents steadfast image as he concentrates on government business after Franco Debono announces decision not to support Budget.

Transport minister Austin Gatt faces another no confidence vote after Franco Debono (pictured, behind) said he will amend a Labour motion that asks for the repeal of the privatisation of car parks.
Transport minister Austin Gatt faces another no confidence vote after Franco Debono (pictured, behind) said he will amend a Labour motion that asks for the repeal of the privatisation of car parks.

Opposition leader Joseph Muscat said today the public will judge Lawrence Gonzi accordingly, when the prime minister goes to parliament to present the last Budget of his legislature with the risk that Nationalist MP Franco Debono does not vote in favour of the crucial money bill.

"Lawrence Gonzi is the only one closing his eyes to the reality he faces. He knows what he has to do. Everybody does. And he will be judged accordingly by the Maltese and Gozitans," Muscat said in a short comment to MaltaToday during a visit to the University of Malta during freshers' week earlier today.

"The prime minister has now been avoiding this reality for over a year. We warned him the situation would get worse, but he said it was business as usual when the matter has not been solved at all."

On his part, Lawrence Gonzi, who visited the Freshers' Week stands earlier in the morning, strove to keep a steadfast image when asked whether he should go for early elections when he faces the risk of Debono not voting for the Budget.

"I have already been asked this question. We are working on various policies and activities as we speak this week, and we are working on the Budget which we will present. When the time comes I will say what we are going to do. The business of running the country goes on.

"Everybody will have to take responsibility for what has been said so far, and there will be consequences," Gonzi said when pressed over Debono's statements.

The MP has officially declared he will not support the Budget, as long as transport minister Austin Gatt stays on as cabinet minister.

A Labour motion presented last week to repeal a privatisation of 34 public car parks, currently run by licensed parking attendants who can only collect gratuities, attracted the support of Debono who said he will amend the motion by including a no confidence vote against Austin Gatt.

Yesterday Gatt announced the Cabinet had suspended the privatisation process until more consultation is carried out, but Labour are still insisting that the motion is debated.

Independent MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando yesterday also supported a call to have the House Business Committee schedule the Labour motion for an urgent debate. A decision is expected on Thursday at 2pm after the government and Opposition sides debate the matter behind closed doors.

Earlier today, Franco Debono also accused Gonzi of fostering division inside the PN in a blogpost on his personal website. "He is sending his wife to curry favour with people and grant favours. It's shameful parochialism," Debono wrote.

Yesterday Gonzi refused to answer questions on what turned out to be a red-letter day for him, after Debono declared he would not support the Budget unless Gatt resigns his Cabinet position - something that Gatt was believed he would do in the run-up to the elections. Instead the Prime Minister has played down the issue to extol his government's effort in hosting the 5 5 talks for Mediterranean states.

Debono pulled no punches in his blogpost today in accusing Gonzi of using the 5 5 meeting as a distraction and of taking undue credit on Malta's role in supporting the Libyan rebels' uprising against Col. Muammar Gaddafi. "You'd think he was the hero and champion of the Arab Spring until you realise his excessive protagonism led him in the trap of being the last Western Prime Minister to hug Gaddafi."

Debono, who also admitted his parliamentary career is all but over, said Gonzi was risking an election for Christmas after his declaration that he would not support the Budget.

This is the only reason I believe Gonzi to be catholic. He believes in make believe miracles. I would bet my last dollar that fervent catholics are closet gross mortal sinners.
Nispera li l-Partit Laburista tghallem il-Lezzjoni, li meta ikun fil-Gvern jaghmel bhal Gonzi w jinkollha ruhu mas-siggu bhal ma ghamel dan il-Prim Ministru Dimokratiku. Nixtieq nghid ukoll li il-laburisti baghtew kull vendikazzjoni li tista timmagina ghaliex il-Partit Laburista ceda is-siggu tal-Poter. Hallew lin-Nazzjonalisti iffarku mhux biss lil Laburisti imma ukoll lil-Pajjiz.
Zack Depasquale
It's unbelievable that the Prim Minister still thinks he can save his Government.
What the country needs is stability in government. A government under threat of instability cannot acting to carry on only one way ticket is to call an early election in November 2012.Gonzipn is in minority in parlament and this is shameful for the country to have such government run under critical situation.