‘Opportunity, solidarity, and the common good’ – Busuttil’s foundations for PN mission

Simon Busuttil tells delegates he will renew and regenerate the Nationalist Party into a strong, modern party with serious, professional leadership.

File photo: Simon Busuttil at a political activity during the European elections
File photo: Simon Busuttil at a political activity during the European elections

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil told party councillors at a general council in Gozo that he renew and regenerate the Nationalist Party into a strong, modern party under serious, professional leadership.

In his speech to party delegates, Busuttil said he would give his party strong foundations to make it a viable alternative, win the people’s confidence, and to vocalise the clear differences of principle with the Labour government.

Busuttil said the PN’s first challenge was that of updating party policy and to make it its mission to be at the service of the people.

“We must people’s lives longer, of better quality, and of a higher standard of living, allowing them to reach their ambitions – everyone, not just Nationalists.”

He said the PN could achieve this aim only the party’s policies were built on political ideas, principles and values. “Every one of our policies must be informed of our ideals: being a party that offers opportunities to everyone, in an inclusive and collective spirit.

“This is the tripod of principles I believe is the best way that people can reach their potential: opportunities for everyone to advance themselves; solidarity for a society that leaves nobody behind; and a common good that everyone can enjoy, like the environment, at nobody else’s expense,” Busuttil said.

The PN leader said that in the coming days he would be announcing the leaders of 10 policy fora that will be mapping out the PN’s forthcoming ideas.

Busuttil said the PN’s second challenge was regenerating its structures, with new branches addressing equal opportunities, professionals, and the selection of candidates having already been put into place. He said 31 candidates for the forthcoming local council elections had already been identified and that the PN would be hosting its first ever general convention by the end of October for all paid-up members.

Busuttil said restructuring the party’s media and restoring his party’s finances were his two other challenges, after having had to take on a multi-million euro deficit that shook the party earlier in 2013.

Busuttil described the PN’s role was to be an Opposition that criticizes the operation of a government at a time where the dialogue between the two sides was not serene, flagging a “divergence of principle, not just in style and operation.”

“We want our basic principles to be respected: these include democracy, equality, justice and transparency. On these principles, there are serious differences between the Opposition and the government. We’re not going to ignore these differences,” he said.

Busuttil laid into Labour, saying its democratic credentials were stained by its years in power during 1981 and 1987, conjuring up the prospect of plans to postpone local council elections for five years.

“We are going to insist that these elections, as programmed at law, be held in 2015 and 2017, because we want voters to exercise their right. These are not things that happen in democratic countries: just take a look at what’s taking place in Hong Kong, where China is demanding to choose which candidates stand for election.”

Busuttil mocked claims made by Labour that postponing the council elections to 2019 would save the country money. “This government is generous with its own inner circle, but is miserly on local democracy,” he said, as he segued into Labour’s incremental employment inside the public sector.

“Edward Scicluna told the European Commission that he would replace 1,500 workers retiring from the public sector with 1,000 only... but in the first 13 months of government, civil servants increased by 1,600 replacements, and then over 2,000 workers again.”

Busuttil also criticised the governmnet for having amassed €413 million in national debt since its election, slowing down the growth of private sector compensation, and claimed that poverty – the people who could not afford basic needs – had increased “by the thousands”.

“Of course, that does not include people like the wife of energy minister Konrad Mizzi,” he quipped, referring to the appointment of Sai Mizzi Liang as a trade envoy in Hong Kong.

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