Labour Party sale of Australia Hall is ‘morally corrupt’ - PN

The sale of Australia Hall by the Labour Party is unjust, MP Ryan Callus says

Australia Hall in Pembroke • Photo by Ray Attard
Australia Hall in Pembroke • Photo by Ray Attard
Opposition MPs Ryan Callus (L) and Chris Said • Photo by Ray Attard
Opposition MPs Ryan Callus (L) and Chris Said • Photo by Ray Attard
Sale of Australia Hall 'morally corrupt' • Video by Ray Attard

The sale of Australia Hall in Pembroke by the Labour Party to third parties is “morally corrupt” opposition MP Ryan Callus said.

Addressing a press conference outside the property, Callus said the sale of the public land is “unjust and partisan”. Condemning the lack of a level playing field, Callus issued a challenge to the PL. “Give back public property to the State, give back private property to the individuals it has been expropriated from, then we can talk about a level playing field”

“Following the bail-out given by this government to the owners of Café Premier in Valletta, we have witnessed another scandalous deal which is morally corrupt,” Callus said, denouncing the sale of the derelict hall and surrounding land to third parties as a "politicial decision". He added that the Labour Party had violated the terms of its contract by allowing the hall to deteriorate its' current state.

The deal, which reportedly hovers around the €10 million mark, follows the Labour government’s decision to instruct the Lands Department to drop a court case against the party over the 10,000 square metres properties in St Andrews.

Condemning the "hypocrisy of the PL", Said added that "on the 15th July, Minister Owen Bonnici had issued a statement to the effect that public funds will not be used for party purposes, while at the same time  he was signing the promise of sale agreement [for Australia Hall]".  

Said cited the timing of the law on party financing, which was passed by Parliament right before Parliament's summer recess, as an explanation for the "rush to sell".

It was yesterday revealed that the PL had struck a deal with a private company to sell 6,000 square metres of land, including the Australia Hall, for €550,000 in order to set off debts owed by the party to the company. "To the citizen, the PL gives meagre compensation [for expropriating land], but is very generous with itself" Mr. Said remarked. "Today that gift has been unwrapped" he said, referring to the MZPN's wrapping of Australia Hall as a Christmas gift last December.

The Labour Party will also take over the former Raffles disco as part of the deal.

The colonial building had been granted to the Labour Party as compensation for the transfer of land the party owned, on the site of the Malta Shipbuilding corporation.