[WATCH] Muscat to invite new Nationalist Party leader for talks on working together

The Prime Minister said that Adrian Delia’s first test as leader would be to reverse the PN’s decision not to take part in a waste-to-energy committee set up by the government

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will be inviting newly-elected leader Adrian Delia to a meeting to discuss ways in which the two could work together
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will be inviting newly-elected leader Adrian Delia to a meeting to discuss ways in which the two could work together

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will be inviting newly-elected Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia for a meeting to discuss ways in which the government and opposition can work together for the good of the country.

Addressing a political activity in Haz-Zebbug, the Prime Minister said that while it appeared that the two had little in common when it came to policy positions, one needed to determine whether the opposition would continue with its “negative attitude” during this legislature.

He said he was very surprised last week to have been told that the opposition was refusing to take part in a waste-to-energy committee being set up by the government to find a way forward on the issue of waste disposal in the country.

He stressed that one of the biggest environmental challenges it faced, was what it would do with the waste it generated, especially given the fact that with the economy and population growing, even more waste would be generated in the coming years.

“We need to have a discussion on what route we will take, what technologies we need and how the go forwar,” he said.

“I was not expecting, that on the eve of the party electing a new leader, it would say they it would not be taking part. I would have thought they’d wait and let the new leader decide himself.”

He stressed that Delia’s “first test” would be for him to reverse the decision and have the PN be represented on the committee.

Taking a jibe at the Nationalist Party, which is today emerging from a very divisive leadership campaign, Muscat said that “without a united party, you can’t hope to unite a country”.

He said that unity did not mean agreeing all the time, but it meant agreeing about the general direction the party wanted the country to move in.

“We succeed because this movement is not one driven by interests and is not built on desire to be in government. What unites us is what we want to change in this country,” he said.

A government of change

Muscat said that having followed the PN leadership campaign, what struck him the most was the fact that most suggestions on what needed to be done nationally all centred around “why things should remain the same”.

“The state of mind is always one of why we should not do something,” he continued. ”Our reasoning is totally different. It is always why should change and move forward, because while we might be prepared for today, it doesn’t mean we are going to be ready for tomorrow.”

Muscat stressed that “had the country not wanted change, it would have chosen others to lead it” and that the government was working to ensure investment today, as well as in the future by regulating for technologies of the future, like blockchain.

Marsa migrant tensions

At the start of his speech, Muscat thanked Marsa mayor Frans Debono - who was present at the activity - as well as other mayors for boycotting a demonstration held this morning in Marsa.

He said that the demonstration had been organised by “people who think that they can solve problems by playing on the emotions of those who are in need” and pledged that his government would continue working to show the residents of Marsa “they have not been forgotten”.

He said that his administration could now rely on four years of experience in government, insisting that its “second experience was a lot more positive than the first,” mainly because the new government had found better foundations to build on.

He said that in 2013, the government had found rising unemployment, a lack of investment and problems that “had been there so long, people thought they could never be solved”.

Regulation of prostitution

Turning to the proposed prostitution reform, which Delia has stated the Nationalist Party will be opposing under his leadership, Muscat said that he was embarrassed by the fact that Malta was referred to as a centre for human trafficking.

“In this country that has a church for every day, where everyone says he believes in values, can we close our eyes to this slavery?” he asked.

He said that irrespective of what one believed about the issues it was a question of protecting women who were being forced into this business by criminal gangs.

“We should not discuss whether to do it but how, because the system so far has failed,” he said, insisting that there were many models that could be adopted and that what was important at this stage, was discussing which one would work best for Malta.

Cannabis reform

On cannabis, he said that it would have been easier for his government not to address the issue.

“But let’s be frank, the war on drugs has failed or is failing in Malta and many other countries,” he said.

Muscat acknowledged that current medical cannabis laws were too restrictive, stressing that this would be addressed because nobody had the right to stop a person in pain, from obtaining medication they had been prescribed.  

The Prime Minister said that on the issue of the recreational use of cannabis, he had already stated that he was personal sceptical but stressed that thing could not be left the way they current are.

He said there were a number of other moral issues, including IVF and embryo freezing, a discussion on which required a “coherent opposition, and one that is able to take a position”.

“If it wants to take the position of the status quo, that’s fine, the choice will be easier,” said Muscat.

Simon Busuttil’s last speech

Muscat said that having heard parts of former Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil’s final speech showed by the country had rejected him.

“Had you switched off the sound, you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking that they won the election,” he said.

Muscat criticised Busuttil for exhibiting the “arrogance” of someone who thinks that the only reason he lost was because everyone was corrupt and bought and because people had not understood his message.

He said that the PN had chosen Adrian Delia because it could not choose better but unlike the PN, Malta had a choice, “and it will continue to choose the better option”. 

More in National