‘Government is taking you for a ride’, Fenech Adami warns hunters

FKNK say hunters ‘abandoned’ by Opposition, Beppe Fenech Adami retorts ‘you’re being taken for a ride by government’.

The thousands of hunters who are pinning their hopes on government blocking the abrogative referendum calling for an end to spring hunting “are being taken for a ride”, PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami said.

Yesterday, the hunters’ federation (FKNK) claimed that the PN and its deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami do not agree with the hunters’ petition because they back the proposed abrogative referendum, which could put an end to spring hunting.

The hunters’ petition, which they claim was signed by 104,000 persons, calls on Parliament to amend the Referenda Act after the Coalition Against Spring Hunting presented a petition to hold a referendum to abolish spring hunting.

Insisting that this would deny the hunting “minority” its traditional and socio-cultural practice, Farrugia said the PN “is not prepared to safeguard the rights and legal privileges of minorities, including hunters”.

Yet, Fenech Adami said he was being misquoted, in an attempt to turn the guns on the Opposition.

“The PN is in favour of limited and regulated spring hunting. However, we are against any attempt to deny the people the right to hold and participate in a referendum,” he said.

Speaking to MaltaToday, the PN deputy leader added that the abrogative referendum was the “ultimate civil right and the gives citizens the only opportunity to tell politicians what they can or cannot do, and the PN will certainly not deny the people this right”. 

In its statement, the hunters’ federation pointed out that the petition was signed by almost one in every three voters and a fourth of the whole population and FKNK chief Lino Farrugia said, “it should be given its due importance, and parliament should hold a serious debate”.

He also expressed his regret that despite its appeals, the Opposition refused to receive and present the petition in Parliament together with government junior minister Michael Falzon.

However, Fenech Adami retorted that it was government the hunters should be wary of, because while reassuring environmentalists that it would not impede the referendum, it was giving hunters “a false impression” that the referendum could be blocked.

Hunting is not a human right

In their attempts to rally support for their cause, the hunters’ federation has camouflaged its petition as a call for MPs to safeguard minorities’ rights, including the gay community, horse-racing and bowls (bocci) enthusiasts and a myriad of unrelated issues. 

Addressing the press outside Parliament, FKNK president Joe Perici Calascione said “Parliament cannot ignore these signatures, and ignore debating this petition to allow the Referendum Act to be used vindictively to attack the right of a minority.”

The hunters have for long argued that if spring hunting is abolished, the rights of other minorities would be at risk.

However, contacted by MaltaToday, the Malta Gay Rights Movement coordinator Gabi Calleja said: “Human rights issues should not be decided through referendums, however hunting is not a human right.”


Unlike the 44,000 signatures collected by the Coalition Against Spring Hunting, the signatures collected by the hunters’ federation will not be verified.

Since presenting the petition to parliament, doubts have been raised on whether FKNK’s claims are correct and whether parliament would be scrutinising the signatures submitted.

FKNK have said that the petition signatures include minors who amount to 0.78% of the total collected, however unless parliament or the electoral commission verify the signatures, this will never be ascertained.

Replying to our questions, the Clerk to the House Ray Scicluna explained that the presentation of the petition was made according to Standing Order 8, immediately following the approval of the minutes.

Asked whether parliament would be carrying out a verification process, Scicluna said “according to Standing Order 146 verification of the number of signatures is not performed by the Office of the Speaker but is the responsibility of the Member presenting the petition who ‘shall ascertain the number of signatures to the petition, and shall write the same number at the head of the petition’.”

This puts the onus on parliamentary secretary for planning Michael Falzon, to ascertain that the hunters’ federation’s claims are correct and ensure that parliament and the public are not misled.

Attempts to contact Falzon proved futile, however after receiving the signatures on Tuesday, the junior minister who brokered a pre-electoral deal with hunters for Labour, said it would be “arrogant of him” not to present the petition.

Falzon, himself a hunter, added that although he had not touched a hunting rifle for 20 years he always had the courage to speak about what he believed in.

Despite his claim of abstinence, Falzon has admitted to enjoying the odd hunting trip abroad. In 2009, he had joined a hunting party in Argentina where the MP featured in a YouTube video dressed in hunting fatigues with fellow hunters, admiring a catch of over 200 ducks and other birds.