[WATCH] Muscat welcomes Adrian Delia to Labour HQ for first face-to-face meeting

Speaking to the press, the Prime Minister alluded to his less than amicable relationship with former PN leader Simon Busuttil, saying that “[Delia’s] meeting was an exercise in confidence building, in the hopes that the frankly bitter experience with the former leader will not repeat itself.”

Joseph Muscat and Adrian Delia met at the Labour Party headquarters in Hamrun
Joseph Muscat and Adrian Delia met at the Labour Party headquarters in Hamrun

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia was welcomed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at the Labour HQ in Hamrun in the first meeting between the two leaders.

Delia said that he hoped he could form a relationship with Muscat that would see the two have a healthy and productive relationship, to the benefit of the Maltese people.

Both the Prime Minister and soon-to-be Opposition leader - the two of them old Aloysians - were all smiles as they met for the first time, and joked about old school rivalries. “We hope that our meeting will create understanding of what we’re both willing to work on,” said Muscat.

Asked by MaltaToday for his reaction to Delia stating he was not afraid of Muscat, the latter jokingly said that “he didn’t seem to be afraid” when they met. Delia interjected, insisting that politics should "never be built on fear, but hope".

After it was incorrectly reported that Delia had turned down Muscat's invitation for a meeting, Delia, speaking during his Independence Day speech had claimed he was not afraid to meet Muscat and would do so at the first opportunity.

The first meeting between Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia was a “very good” one in which the two leaders discussed a range of subjects, according to the PN leader.

“Not only was it cordial, but it was also effective,” said Delia upon emerging from the Labour Party headquarters after an hour and half long meeting.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting Delia said he had raised three points in particular with the Prime Minister, including his concerns with the uncertainty surrounding Air Malta and the knock-on effect on the rest of the tourism sector, his proposal for government to give its MPs a free vote when parliament discusses issues of a “moral” nature, as well as the way forward on Vote 16.

“We both agree on the issue of vote 16, which I brought it up because in a year and a half we will have local council and MEP elections,” said Delia, adding that it was in the interest of the country for the two parties to find a “modus operandi” on implementing the changes that will allow 16-year-olds to vote.

Asked about the Prime Minister’s reaction to his call for a free vote on moral issues, Delia said he would rather let Muscat discuss his own reactions but added that he understood that the Prime Minister’s position was that of obtaining consensus within his parliamentary group.

Delia reiterated that the Opposition would be deciding whether to join the government’s waste management committee after discussing the matter during the first meeting of the PN parliamentary group which is to take place on Wednesday.

On whether there were any issues the Prime Minister requested the Opposition’s support on once parliament reopens, Delia simply said that both leaders had discussed the items they wanted to discuss.

The PN leader, who was accompanied by MPs David Agius and Clyde Puli was asked why he was not been accompanied by Mario De Marco and Beppe Fenech Adami – the party’s two deputy leaders. Delia said that he was the one invited and had "asked the MPs" to join him, insisting there was "no political reason" behind the decision.

On his part, the Prime Minister expressed his hope that the change in the PN’s leadership could usher in a more constructive relationship between the two parties.

He said the government would be held accountable for the decisions it took regarding waste management when asked about statements by Delia, that the government had only invited the Opposition to sit on a waste management committee so that it could justify decisions it had already taken.

When asked about the Opposition's allegations that the waste management committee proposed by Minister Herrera would be used to justify decisions that have already been taken, Muscat said that the Labour party will continue to clarify the jurisdiction of the committee, and that the Government will be held accountable for the decisions it takes.

Turning to Delia’s request for government to grant a free vote on ethical and moral issues, Muscat said that no free vote would be given on issues which were in the party’s manifesto.

Finally, on hunting Muscat said that the state was aware that a minority of hunters were breaking the law, but insisted that many hunters were abiding by the law. He said that ultimately it would be up to the Ornis Committee to give recommendations to the government.