Busuttil questions why ministers will be exempt from House absence fines when abroad

Opposition leader says proposal to fine MPs for missing Parliament will 'create one law for ministers and another for the rest of us animals'

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has warned that discrepanices exist in a a government motion to fine MPs for missing Parliament sittings, in that it will exempt ministers from fines when they miss House sittings due to travel commitments.

He was speaking during a parliamentary debate on a government motion that calls, among others, for MPs to be fined €50 for every parliamentary session they miss. However, MPs who are abroad on parliamentary, government or official party business will be exempted from such fines.

Busuttil claimed that the government was proposing to exempt ministers from fines, arguing that “there will be one law for ministers and another law for the rest of us animals”.

Home affairs minister Carmelo Abela stood up on a point of order to argue that the exemptions will be applicable to all MPs, to which Busuttil responded: “Including for when you’ll be abroad”.

“For when we’re on government work, not on holiday,” Abela said, to which the PN leader retorted that “ministers’ work lies first and foremost inside the House, not abroad”.

Only five Labour MPs and eight Nationalist MPs were present for Busuttil’s speech, an irony that the Opposition leader did not fail to ignore.

 In his speech, Busuttil warned that government has “hijacked” practically every public institution and is attacking the last few independent ones – such as the Ombudsman and the Auditor General – that remain.

“Last week, [Labour MP] Michael Falzon launched a fascist attack on the Auditor General, but the Prime Minister didn’t comment about it at all,” he said, to which Labour MP Joe Debono Grech shouted back that “you know what fascism is”.

“A weak Auditor General means a weak public, and by defending these institutions the Opposition is defending citizens,” Busuttil said.

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