Austin Gatt plays for time as Budget day approaches

Why Franco Debono’s threat to vote against Budget 2013 may be the one thing both Lawrence Gonzi and Austin Gatt are secretly hoping will happen.

Labour's new billboard lampoons the bendy-buses that Arriva operated in London, which mayor Boris Johnson yesterday said were clogging up Maltese streets.
Labour's new billboard lampoons the bendy-buses that Arriva operated in London, which mayor Boris Johnson yesterday said were clogging up Maltese streets.

Malta's acquisition of London's troublesome 'bendy buses' may have been the source of merriment at the UK Conservative Party conference this week; but Transport Minister Austin Gatt may yet have the last laugh, as a ruling by the Speaker of the House buys his government precious time to plan a long election campaign

Successful attempts to derail the motion of censure on the privatisation of parking areas has left the Nationalist Party and Infrastructure Minister Austin Gatt with some precious breathing space to plan the next move.

Yesterday, Gatt's closest aides talked of the minister as 'singing' in reaction to the decision, by the Speaker of the House Michael Frendo, to have the agenda decided by Parliament's House Business Committee: a ruling Frendo himself attributed to the fact that "all the keys are in the Government's hands."

Monday's decision effectively means that the parliamentary debate on the motion will be postponed indefinitely. This suits both Gatt himself, and Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi: who has been advised to present the budget as his electoral programme, and is banking on the fact that maverick backbencher Franco Debono will vote against the budget and in line with the Labour opposition.

It is understood that Gonzi's strategy is to blame Debono for scuttling a favourable budget, thus killing two birds with one stone: earning public sympathy and also directing opprobrium towards the Ghaxaq for 'ruining' an otherwise generous and popular budget.

Dr Franco Debono on Monday reiterated his threat to withhold support for government for as long as Austin Gatt was retained as minister. 

He has also told close colleagues that he is not happy with Health Minister Joe Cassar and Consumer Minister Jason Azzopardi.

The PM's advisors have interpreted a no vote from Franco Debono as an additional plus for Gonzi's credibility. Though none of the surveys appears to indicate any major shift towards the PN, the Prime Minister reportedly remains confident that he can swing this one in his favour. 

His approach is supported by Austin Gatt, who has been entrusted with formulating the bulk of the PN's campaign strategy.

The Prime Minister is also hoping that the budget will be defeated, and that the country will then enter into a long election campaign.  This is considered to work to the PN¹s advantage, as the ruling party is banking on the Labour party's aptitude to make tactical mistakes that can easily be taken advantage of. According to this line of reasoning, the longer the campaign, the likelier the chance of Labour shooting itself in the foot.

To date, the ability of the PN spin machine to take advantage of Muscat's 'minimum wage' comment is perhaps the best example of the party's capability to score unexpted points over their adversaries.

On its part, the Labour Party has reverted to reticence and caution - wishing to avoid being blamed for calling an early election.  Yesterday, PL leader Joseph Muscat made it abundantly clear that he would not call for a vote of confidence in the Gonzi administration. 

The decision may well be linked to an appreciation of how the PN can easily project the image that the PL is power hungry and only interested in getting into Castille as quickly as possible.

But the PN has also interpreted this as Muscat's refusal to place full trust in Franco Debono, after his previous failure to support a motion of no confidence in Austin Gatt last January.

 

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I am a bit confused by this article what is one meant to conclude? That: A)the Maltese electorate likes to be taken for a ride B) that it is legitimate for the party in power for the last 25- 18mths to play the patronage game and therefore this is how democracy in Malta works. 'Pjacir bi dritt' being the motto. C) the PL are complete morons therefore they are deligitimised as contenders for government D) the electorate is gormless and powerless against the Machiavellian machinations of Austin GATT and co. E) we all stand in awe of a man who is a serial failure prone to infantile posturing with a gross lack of people skills. F) Hamlet's 'patient merit of the unworthy' rules ok. Rather pathetic bunch the Maltese it seems. -
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Cheer up folks! It's a pity that some Nuts have lost their sense of humour. You should be very happy as we are spoilt for choice these days. You will soon have to choose between Austin and the budget.
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ma ninsewx li l-inkwiet kollu li ghandu bhalissa il-pn mhux joseph muscat qalghu izda tliet backbenchers minn taghhom stess u bilhaqq tlieta li nafu bihom ghax jien nahseb li hemm izjed imma ma'ghandhomx il-guts biex jitkellmu. Ma ninsewx lanqas kemm ghandhom membri parlamentari li m'humiex se johorgu ghal l-elezzjoni. Nixtieq inkun naf kif qed jinterpretaw dan kollu Gonzi u Wistin
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ma ninsewx li l-inkwiet kollu li ghandu bhalissa il-pn mhux joseph muscat qalghu izda tliet backbenchers minn taghhom stess u bilhaqq tlieta li nafu bihom ghax jien nahseb li hemm izjed imma ma'ghandhomx il-guts biex jitkellmu. Ma ninsewx lanqas kemm ghandhom membri parlamentari li m'humiex se johorgu ghal l-elezzjoni. Nixtieq inkun naf kif qed jinterpretaw dan kollu Gonzi u Wistin
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Frendo himself is a failed PN minister and a Gonzi stooge. To say that the speaker made some decision that benefited Gonzi and Gatt, like there was no obvious connection is ludicrous. The decisions were taken by Gonzi and Gatt and Frendo is following their instructions like a loyal lap dog - the only skill he has ever had. he was a joke as a minister and now he is a Gonzi's joker card. PATHETIC
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The only game can play austin'pipi tahtu'gatt is quiet simple a defeat in the government budget by the the hon dr: franco debono followed instantnly with a call of the general election on the same day of the budget defeat and 45 days from there onwards to the day of the general election not longer than that constitutionaly not dictatarship Mr:Raphael Vassallo. There will be no long campaign than 45 days till the day of the voting in the general election.
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Mark Fenech
Ha nghidlek Rafael, illum in-nies diga jafu x'sejrin jivvutaw, tigi meta tigi l-elezzjoni. In-nies, specjalment dawk li jafu l-iskola, jafu li l-budget li sejjer jipprezenta l-gvern ma jiswa xejn, xejn, xejn, u dan ghaliex l-ewwel ikun irid l-approvazzjoni tal-EU biex wiehed jghid li l-budget ghadda. Niftakru sewwa l-budget ta' din is-sena, li wara li ghadda mill-parlament xorta l-gvern kellu jnaqqas €40miljun ghax hekk riedet Brussels. Issa jekk anke l-gvern jinstab li ma mexiex ma dawn it-targets kif fil-fatt jidher car li huwa hekk, Brussels sejrin jibghatu l-budget ghand ix-xjaten ghax ma nkunx accettabli ghalihom u ghar-regoli godda, u jistghu jharfu u jivvintaw figuri kemm iridu. In-nies mhux sejrin jinsew li hekk kif rega telgha GonziPN fil-gvern b'cikka, fl-2008 il-cabinet taghaw zieda lilhom infushom ta' €600 fil-gimgha, u n-nies tat-triq hadu €1.16. Iddahhaqniex Rafael, idum kemm idum hemm gonzipn juri bic-car li ma huwiex demokratiku u huwa bla misthija. Kulhadd jaf li ilu zmien mhux hazin fil-gvern ta' minoranza, imma intkom il-gurnalisti kuntenti, ghax skont inthom it-80 biss kienu hziena.
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So according to this news item, it seems that the PN is trying to win the election by using tactical strategies, by using the favourable media and other tricks of the trade: by trying to outwit the Labour Party rather than by presenting a really workable programme.
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TRIDUX NILGHABU LOGHBA CHESS, JEW DRAFT, HALLINA WISTIN GATT, ARA GEJJA L ARRIVA
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Speaker Frendo's Monday ruling is effectively an official declaration confirming that Parliament in Malta is just a debating chamber, with absolutely no powers. The government, in parliament, can do whatever it likes, when it likes. There is nothing which any group of MPs, however large, can do to oppose this. However, notice that the Labour Party has not reacted to this ruling. The reason is simple: Labour in government would enjoy this priviledge too. Frendo's ruling can be quoted till kingdom come by future Speakers when similar situations arise, as a means of blocking any initiative the Opposition may come up with. Will this change? No, not really. Both parties are comfortable with it, and it seems the electorate too.
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Il PL irried jati bizzejed habel lil gonzipn biex jitalaq bih. Jekk il poplu Malti huwa kuntent bit tmexija ta gonzipn jivota lilu.
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To date, the ability of the PN spin machine to take advantage of Muscat's 'minimum wage' comment is perhaps the best example of the party's capability to score unexpted points over their adversaries."...... you're so fricken mistaken.On this one they kicked themselves and wished they had not taken it up, especially after entities normally not associated with labour,(UHM and MEA)and John Dalli himself belied the fact. FRom this one Gonzi emerged as a compulsive lier.
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Joseph Muscat focus only to became Prime Minister...... http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120510/local/vassallo-in-scating-criticism-of-ditatorial-joseph-muscat.419242
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Maureen Attard
Muscat jaf li F. Debono ser jivvota kontra l-budget u ghalhekk il-PN se jkollu vot ta' sfiducja fil-budget u jaqa l-gvern. Biex Muscat ikollu cans ghal-poter. B'min irid jidhaq J. Muscat?