[WATCH] Prime Minister insists Falzon was 'expressing his opinion' in NAO attack

Joseph Muscat says Michael Falzon respected the Auditor General by resigning his post

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has failed to condemn former parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon for the attack launched last week against the Office of the Auditor General.

The MP, who resigned following the investigation into the expropriation of Old Mint Street, accused the NAO of political vindictiveness and its findings “politically motivated”.

“Michael Falzon was expressing his opinion and respected the report by resigning, doing what previous administrations failed to do,” he said, adding that in the past ministers used to attack the Auditor General and never took action.

Muscat recalled that, under the previous administration, the parliamentary public accounts committee had approved a motion to investigate the Auditor General.

“Michael Falzon is entitled to his opinion,” the Prime Minister reiterated.

Muscat said that the government had shouldered responsibility. He described his decision to open a court case to recoup the lands and property as “an unprecedented step”.

As Labour Party leader, Muscat will propose changes to the Labour Party’s structure that will allow a MP to succeed Toni Abela as deputy leader for party affairs, who has been nominated for the European Court of Auditors.

Muscat’s proposal could pave the way for a serving Labour MP to be elected to replace Abela.

He said that the time is ripe to modernise the party structure and abolish the assumption that the Labour Party and its parliamentary group must work separately from each other.

Asked whether he favoured Falzon - a former deputy leader between 2003 and 2008 - for the post, Muscat said: “The deputy leadership post should be open to anyone who feels they can do the job, including those who are members of parliament, parliamentary secretaries or ministers."

New plaque unveiled

Muscat unveiled a plaque in the Upper Barrakka gardens today, commemorating the Malta Conference of 1945 and the Malta Summit of 1989.

The Malta Conference was held from January 30 to February 3, 1945 between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The purpose of the conference was to plan the final campaign against the Germans.

The Malta Summit comprised a meeting between US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, taking place on December 2-3, 1989, just a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was their second meeting following a meeting that included Ronald Reagan, in New York in December 1988. During the summit, Bush and Gorbachev would declare an end to the Cold War.

The plaque consists of engravings of stamps, issued during these two periods. The sculptor is Guzeppi Chetcuti.

Muscat said the plaque would serve as a reminder for Malta's role in history and its continued contribution to international relations.