[LIVE] Konrad Mizzi delivers public apology: 'I apologise to everyone'

A motion presented by independent MP Marlene Farrugia is being discussed this afternoon in parliament • Konrad Mizzi delivers public apology

Minister Konrad Mizzi
Minister Konrad Mizzi
21:34 The motion has been defeated with 36 votes against and 31 in favour. Miriam Dalli
21:32 Minister Konrad Mizzi declares that he won't be voting in the motion presented against him, to support of his colleagues. Miriam Dalli
21:29 Marlene Farrugia ends her speech with a "Viva Malta!" The vote will be taken within minutes. Miriam Dalli
21:29 “We are our country’s guards. If we are not the ones ready to condemn what we preached against, the country will judge us. History will ask where were we. I urge you, for the love of our country, be there for Malta today. Let’s send a message to our youths that these new norms are not acceptable,” Farrugia urges the members of parliament. Miriam Dalli
21:23 “If he truly loved the country [Konrad Mizzi] would have resigned and he would have never passed on the buck to the Prime Minister. Is the thirst for power so big?” Miriam Dalli
21:21 Konrad Mizzi said that he had offered his resignation as deputy leader for party affairs of the Labour Party: “Putting the party before the country: the party is far more important to him than the country,” Farrugia says.

Farrugia insists that an improving economy shouldn’t be used to justify Panama Papers.

Miriam Dalli
21:17 Whilst explaining how she had urged her partner, Godfrey Farrugia, to run for elections, Marlene Farrugia moves on to question all contracts and agreements signed under Konrad Mizzi and why these were never tabled in parliament and made public.

She insists that the environmental improvements registered were thanks to investments by the previous administration, reiterating that the country didn’t need a new power plant because of the interconnector.

Miriam Dalli
21:13 Farrugia compares Malta to a girl, her daughter who fell in love with a man – a reference to either Joseph Muscat or the Labour Party. The point is, as Farrugia puts it, she trusted her daughter in the hands of this “husband” but, on their honeymoon, he bought a second house without telling his wife. “Why did he need this new house?” Miriam Dalli
21:06 Independent MP Marlene Farrugia kicks off her speech by wishing all mothers a Happy Mother’s Day and wishing good luck to students facing exams. Miriam Dalli
20:56 Ooops. George Vella has had to apologise after prematurely announcing the death of former Labour MP Daniel Micallef. I think it was someone from the Opposition benches who pointed out that Micallef had not yet passed on to the other side. Muffled laughs from the government side in full view. Matthew Vella
20:55 Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella says the debate served to highlight the difference between the two sides of the House. He praised the speech delivered by George Farrugia, saying that this should be the spirit of participation in political life in every aspect.

Miriam Dalli
20:46 Economy Minister – and deputy leadership contender – Chris Cardona accuses Simon Busuttil of “double standards” over his inaction to face his deputy leaders whilst insisting that the government will “humbly” keep on achieving positive results for the country. Miriam Dalli
20:31 Parliamentary secretary Deborah Schembri and Justice Minister Owen Bonnici praised Konrad Mizzi for being humble enough to apologise. Schembri went on to ask whether the deputy leaders of the PN would be ready to act likewise and take the necessary action.

On his part, Bonnici – to shouts from the opposition benches – also questioned whether the PN would act against all citizens who have opened legitimate offshore companies and accounts.

Miriam Dalli
20:11 “I took my decisions and I shoulder the responsibility for that decision. We are a united group because we talk about the things that really hurt people. We don’t come here treating this side of the Chamber as the virgins and the other side as the devils. What decision did you take over Mario de Marco? You did nothing. No action.”

“Simon Busuttil was disgusting … making a veiled treat that he’s going to try and undermine Leo Brincat’s nomination to the European Court of Auditors.”

Muscat adds that the government had no doubts that the PN would try and hinder Brincat’s nomination as well and went on to reveal that former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi had sought his reassurance that the then Labour opposition would support Tonio Borg’s nomination. Miriam Dalli

20:06 “There is one correct thing he said tonight, that ‘no one else in this Chamber holds an offshore bank account or a company in Panama’. So you’ve finally admitted that I hold no bank accounts or companies, despite the suspicions you’ve tried to raise … if there’s anyone who earned €1 million was you,” Muscat tells Busuttil. “If there’s anyone who has €1 million in a bank is your deputy leader.” Miriam Dalli
20:01 Muscat says that the approach adopted showed a government that was listening, a different administration that feels the people’s pulse. “But on the other side, there is the opposition with an arrogant tone who didn’t learn anything from its recent past and present. Busuttil professed himself as a judiciary, thinking he holds some monopoly over people’s beliefs. But definitely I’m not arrogant enough to think that I represent everyone’s opinion, including the international opinion.” Miriam Dalli
19:57 Prime Minister Joseph Muscat takes the floor: “People want clean politics but they do not want the leader of the opposition.” Miriam Dalli
19:57 “This is a vote of conscience. And, after what Godfrey Farrugia and Evarist Bartolo said, the logical conclusion is for them to vote against,” he says. He then turned to former environment minister Leo Brincat asking what he was going to tell the grilling committee - for the appointment at the European Court of Auditors - on Panama Papers. Miriam Dalli
19:51 “In no other country are such things accepted: there were resignations in Iceland and Spain. What’s so different about Malta? In no other country are such things tolerated. Instead you promoted Konrad Mizzi. And what did you expect me to tell TGCom?” Miriam Dalli
19:45 Busuttil says that the level of emissions went down because of investments carried out by the previous administration. Miriam Dalli
19:41 “There are clear suspicions of money laundering. I’m not saying there is money laundering but that suspicions arise. From where they planning on getting that kind of money?”

Busuttil also calls the engagement of Sai Mizzi as the Malta Enterprise special envoy as “another form of corruption” because “we have nothing to justify why she cost us half a million in three years”.

Miriam Dalli
19:38 Busuttil hits out at the Attorney General, saying that, if the police have done nothing to investigate Panama Papers, then AG Peter Grech should at least do something. Miriam Dalli
19:36 The opposition leader refers to Mossack Fonseca emails showing that they were going to deposit between $800,000 and $1 million annually. “Is it possible that you can remain Finance Minister with all this dirt?” Busuttil tells Edward Scicluna, arguing that wasn’t it unacceptable that the reply was to go ahead?

He accused Mizzi of lying when he failed to mention the Panama company when he revealed his New Zealand trust.

“But how can you do nothing in front of all these lies? How can you ignore all this? Do you really want to take people for a ride? Just look at Mizzi’s declaration of assets … the question that arises is, why would he need a trust fund and an offshore account?”

Miriam Dalli
19:29 Busuttil insists that the Prime Minister shouldn’t insult people’s intelligence: “Checking nine banks is not standard inquiry,” he says referring to revelations of different banks sought by Mizzi and Schembri’s advisors in their attempt to set up a company in Panama. Miriam Dalli
19:22 He accuses the government MPs of insulting people’s intelligence, in a debate where “none of them – with the exception of Godfrey Farrugia and Evarist Bartolo - make actual reference to why we’re here”.

Busuttil insists that Mizzi does not deserve to be an MP or Minister: “If this House doesn’t take the action that needs to be taken, we are simply in the ridiculous situation of telling people that people can get away with anything. What Schembri and Mizzi did is unacceptable. It is wrong.”

Miriam Dalli
19:18 Opposition leader Simon Busuttil takes the floor, “announcing” that the opposition will be supporting Marlene Farrugia’s no-confidence motion against Konrad Mizzi.

He also criticised Konrad Mizzi for not being present inside the Chamber for the duration of the debate.

Turning to Muscat he says: “Useless saying you’re shouldering political responsibility because you’re not doing anything.”

Miriam Dalli
19:10 Bartolo says people do not always know what’s happening behind closed doors and that is why it is important that politicians always take the right decisions. He speaks of a culture that needs to encourage people to come forward with wrongdoings they witness and the importance of scrutinizing politicians. He reiterates his condemnation of the PN loan scheme. Miriam Dalli
19:04 Taking the floor, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo admits that the past two months had been extremely difficult: “They make one ask ‘why are we in politics?’ For our personal satisfaction?”

Bartolo says society – the judiciary, civil society, the media – have a responsibility to shoulder in encouraging a culture of public morality.

Bartolo says he was disappointed by the Church that, at a time when the Pope was speaking more about social issues and how people actin the public life, the Maltese Church was however absent. “The Church has an important role to play,” he says.

Miriam Dalli
18:49 “Are we going to move on just by leaving things as are? A minister without a portfolio? Is this the closure we need? The prime minister said that doing nothing is not an option … but after the farcical reshuffle is just an insult to people’s intelligence. Because the PM’s message was simple: I will not respect people’s intelligence and play around with musical chairs.” Miriam Dalli
18:45 PN deputy leader Mario de Marco insists that the explanation given by Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri on the opening of their companies in Panama were “a lie”. De Marco argues that the Panama Papers revelations had a ripple effect on Malta’s reputation, especially over Malta’s financial services sector. He insists that Mizzi’s apology was “not enough”.

“The issue is not whether Mizzi is the most capable person in government … although we know that his capability is not as super as the government MPs make it out to be.”

Miriam Dalli
18:33 Health Minister Chris Fearne is on a roll listing various developments in the health sector, targeting a better health service. Among others, in a bid to reduce waiting lists, professionals working on a Sunday increased by 113 increasing the number of operations carried out to 35. The number of operations is set to increase to 50. The number of doctors working at the Emergency Department increased by 20.

Taking umbrage at comments by Claudette Buttigieg claiming that patients had been moved “from corridors to stores”, Fearne said patients were not in corridors because new halls had been built, the number of beds increased whilst further work on public-private partnerships was carried out. Miriam Dalli

18:19 Junior minister Ian Borg insists that Simon Busuttil was part of the government who had “wholeheartedly voted against the reduction of tariffs”, calling the PN leader “the weakest link of the whole group”. Miriam Dalli
18:10 Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis urges parliament to move forward. Whilst recognizing the opposition’s role as the government’s watchdog, Zammit Lewis insists that the PN had rendered itself “a lobby group against country’s reputation”.

“We should debate such aspects in parliament but it is unacceptable to go in international fora to tarnish the country’s reputation. We should be working together.”

Miriam Dalli
17:55 Matthew Vella
17:53 Fenech Adami: “We cannot act as if Panama Papers did not happen… people don’t expect us to do intentionally wrong things, but creating a financial structure that is inherently wrong in itself is something else.” Matthew Vella
17:51 So Fenech Adami is saying something about 'genuine Labourites' listening to the confidence motion, to which Ian Borg, the parliamentary secretary, gesticulates with his hand in response saying that they have probably already changed the channel on TV. Matthew Vella
17:48 'I still cannot understand why someone who is married to a Chinese national should necessarily open an offshore company in Panama and a trust in New Zealand with a bank account in Dubai...', Fenech Adami says, referring to the fact that Mizzi said that the reason he created this financial structure was for his family. Matthew Vella
17:45 Fenech Adami is taking on Mizzi for the statements he made on his offshore company, listing for example the fact that since setting up the offshore company in mid-2015 he had not 'populated the trust' (Mizzi's words) with the UK property that the minister owns. Matthew Vella
17:42 'Konrad Mizzi was not naive. He knew perfectly what he was doing when he opened that offshore company in Panama.' Matthew Vella
17:40 Fenech Adami listing names from the dictators' club that had offshore interests in Panama. Matthew Vella
17:39 Beppe Fenech Adami now addressing the House. Matthew Vella
17:37 The entire House listened to Farrugia's speech in perfect silence. It was a heartfelt speech. Matthew Vella
17:34 “Everyone knows what I would have done had I been in Konrad Mizzi’s place. I’ve met three times in these last weeks: I understood his concerns, his emotional hurt, the price he paid. Mizzi has passed from martyrdom, and I believe that any decision must be taken with judiciousness and humility.

“I forgive the person who made me blind in one eye. I forgive Konrad, who has apologized to this House.”
Matthew Vella
17:30 “The reason I entered politics is to be part of the change it brings about, to set the example… it is not right that someone opens an offshore trust, that is not above suspicion, and it is a fact that the Prime Minister has taken a decision on this matter, that this party is bringing about changes and economic growth.” Matthew Vella
17:28 Yes, it's waterworks, but only just... Farrugia is giving an emotional speech about the fact that his place is in this House - it's a reference to the fact that his absence from the Labour rally on 1 May, and the nasty comments he endured on the social media against him and his partner Marlene Farrugia, the former Labour MP. Matthew Vella
17:26 Farrugia has taken out a stone and placed it on his desk... ooh his voice is breaking up. Matthew Vella
17:23 PL whip Godfrey Farrugia addressing the House which starts with a personal disclosure on the fact that this motion has been filed by his partner Marlene Farrugia, the former Labour MP. Matthew Vella
17:22 Buttigieg insists that Mizzi “is not fit for purpose” and should be “ashamed”, after arguing that people on waiting lists have increased whilst more patients have to wait months to set meetings with various consultants or carry out tests. She adds that the wealthy are paying for private healthcare, whilst thousands of people at risk of poverty have to wait for months.

“As if people never paid for private healthcare before,” Family Minister Michael Farrugia chips in from the opposite benches.

On the other hand, Health Minister Chris Fearne says that Buttigieg should substantiate her allegations.

Miriam Dalli
17:20 Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola
Matthew Vella
17:19 Here's justice minister Owen Bonnici fleshing out his previous incursion with a tweet.
Matthew Vella
17:11 Ian Borg heckling Claudette Buttigieg after justice minister Owen Bonnici comments on the fact that opening a foreign bank accounts is not illegal. Matthew Vella
17:09 A few MPs rose to shake hands with Konrad Mizzi, the Prime Minister the first among them. Mizzi then finally stretched out his hand to Chris Fearne, the former parliamentary secretary for health now made minister. Fearne reciprocated. Matthew Vella
17:09 The former health minister speaks of investment in Gozo and the creation of a new medical hub. In other sectors, Mizzi reminds of work carried out through Trade Malta and public-private partnerships.

“I pledge my loyalty to the Prime Minister and parliamentary group. I will do my best for unity within our parliamentary group and to ensure that we deliver the projects we promised. We will face the public with achievements and, in two years’ time, a new electoral manifesto breaking new boundaries.”

Miriam Dalli
17:08 Konrad Mizzi has left the Chamber... Claudette Buttigieg is miffed somewhat. He did the same during the last confidence motion. Matthew Vella
17:03 The minister is listing out the works carried out over the past three years, including Enemalta’s turnaround, the reduction in energy tariffs, the closure of the Marsa power station, investment in sustainable groundwater and renewable energy. By end of year 95MW peak would have been generated through cleaner energy. A new feed-in tariff will be issued in the coming days.

On health, Mizzi says the government has eliminated the list of out-of-stock medicine whilst work is going ahead on reducing waiting lists.

Miriam Dalli
17:00 Minister Konrad Mizzi has taken the floor and, in his opening comments, says that he has no problems in asking the House an apology.

“There was no bad intention behind my decision,” he says, of the New Zealand trust and Panama company. “I did it in the best interest of my family. I recognize that this has cast a shadow on myself and the work of this government.

“That is why I accepted the Prime Minister’s decision. There is nothing illicit in what I did but I know I have political responsibility. I shoulder it, I feel it and I believe it. I carry this political responsibility with the Prime Minister’s decision. I resigned the deputy leadership out of my own will.”

Miriam Dalli
17:00 Minister Konrad Mizzi has taken the floor and, in his opening comments, says that he has no problems in asking the House an apology.

“There was no bad intention behind my decision,” he says, of the New Zealand trust and Panama company. “I did it in the best interest of my family. I recognize that this has cast a shadow on myself and the work of this government.

“That is why I accepted the Prime Minister’s decision. There is nothing illicit in what I did but I know I have political responsibility. I shoulder it, I feel it and I believe it. I carry this political responsibility with the Prime Minister’s decision. I resigned the deputy leadership out of my own will.”

Miriam Dalli
16:55 “It may be true that Enemalta has €17 million less on its books but the burden was shifted to other entities,” she says, referring to a decision to transfer some 700 workers. Portelli insists that the way the government handled Enemalta’s turnaround was not in the right way.

“Konrad Mizzi owes the public an apology … someone once said it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee,” in a dig at Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. “It’s time for Mizzi to wake up.”

Miriam Dalli
16:53 So, a quote from Aristotle to start, and one from Albert Einstein to finish... Matthew Vella
16:51 Portelli is raising the point that Enemalta shifted a €17 million wage bill onto the public sector, which is - to put it in context - similar to the government bailout of the shipyards back in 2003, when hundreds of workers were shifted into the Industrial Projects Services Ltd (IPSL). Matthew Vella
16:49 The government side heckles Portelli for saying that Labour's way of having 'saved' Enemalta was not necessarily the right way... Matthew Vella
16:49 “Maltese taxpayers are paying amongst the highest prices of fuel,” Portelli says, sarcastically calling Mizzi the “super minister who delivers”.

“I’ve already outlined nine of what are either lies or result of your incompetence.”

She also says that the Minister should state whether there had been occasions where the government purchased electricity at 5c per unit through the interconnector.

Portelli is cautioned by the Speaker to address the Chair and not the minister.

Miriam Dalli
16:42 Portelli goes back to pre-2013, right at the heart of the electoral campaign. She reminds him that he had pledged “a no privatization of Enemalta … the first of a series of lies.”

She continues to hit out at “lies and incompetence” and tears into the new power station and energy supply agreement. She says, that the public are forking out the guarantee of the power station.

Miriam Dalli
16:38 First to take the floor, shadow transport minister Marthese Portelli kicks off her speech with a quote from Aristotle: “No notice is taken of a little evil but when it increases, it strikes the eye.” Miriam Dalli
16:35 Good afternoon and welcome to our live-blog where we will be following a debate in the House on a no-confidence motion presented by independent MP Marlene Farrugia against Konrad Mizzi – who is present in the House. Right before starting to read her motion, Farrugia is approached by Konrad Mizzi and the two exchange a few words.

Farrugia will be opening the five-hour debate, at the end of which a vote will be taken.

Miriam Dalli

 

 

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