Updated | PN amendment to motion on Majjistral Park hunting falls short of censuring government decision

Three PN MPs are insisting the PN should not support Godfrey Farrugia's motion despite the fact that even the government-appointed Majjistral Park board had objected to the government's decision to expland the time windows for hunting

Carm Mifsud Bonnici, Clyde Puli and Hermann Schiavone are pushing for a vote aligned to Labour's on hunting time window extensions at Majjistral Park
Carm Mifsud Bonnici, Clyde Puli and Hermann Schiavone are pushing for a vote aligned to Labour's on hunting time window extensions at Majjistral Park

The Nationalist Party will be proposing an amendment to a motion, due to be discussed in Parliament on Monday, calling for a broad consultation with all interested parties, but without urging the government to reverse its decision to extend the open time windows for hunting in the Majistral Park.

The motion had been tabled in the House on 23 November by Partit Demokratiku's Godfrey Farrugia, who called for a restriction in the time windows open for hunting at the park in the north of the island, which also includes the Simar national reserve.

He had claimed that the time windows had been expanded to beyond 10am, when no hunting had originally been allowed within the park grounds.

MaltaToday reported earlier that three prominent Nationalist MPs - Clyde Puli, Hermann Schiavone and Carm Mifsud Bonnici - were pushing to have the party vote against the original motion ahead of a parliamentary group meeting hstily convened this afternoon.

But sources said that many MPs were questioning how the PN could support the decision to extend the time windows, when even the government-appointed Majjistral Park board had objected to the decision.

Members of the parliamentary group told MaltaToday they were worried that the new leader - Adrian Delia - was too eager to align the PN with Labour on major policies.

In the amendment agreed upon by the group and which will be presented on Monday, the PN acknowledges the fact that the board, which included Nature Trust, Gaia Foundation and Din l-Art Helwa, had unanimously opposed the time window extension.

When contact, Schiavone would not confirm if he had pushed for the parliamentary group to shoot down Farrugia's motion.

"All I can say is that I would personally never vote in favour of a motion presented by an other party," he said. "It is the PN that sets the opposition's agenda."

But it still fell short of calling on the government to reverse its decision, recommending instead that "all interested parties are are consulted on order to reach a decision".

PN MPs also complained that they had only been notified this morning of this afternoon’s parliamentary group meeting, with many saying they would not be able to attend.

MaltaToday reported earlier that the same had happened yesterday, when many key members of the party’s executive committee were not given enough notice to attend a meeting in the afternoon, during which the party decided to formally dissolve the coalition with the PD.

BirdLife Malta calls on political parties to support Farrugia's motion

In a statement, BirdLife Malta said that all members of parliament needed to bear in mind that extending hunting and trapping hours in such a site went against the very concept of a national park where many go to enjoy the beauty of nature.

"One must not forget that the Majjistral Heritage Parks Federation which is made up of the three NGOs Din l-Art Ħelwa, Gaia Foundation and Nature Trust Malta objected to this unilateral decision which was taken by the Government and also questioned the legality of the Legal Notice which extended the hunting and trapping hours since it was issued without the mandatory period of public consultation," the eNGO said.

It said that it expected all the political parties to support Farrugia's motion and all members of parliament to prove that they have the courage to put the national interest before that of their party.

"It is disturbing to note that according to media reports, the PN Opposition is putting in doubt this motion and could even declare a position against it," BirdLife said. "More so when it is a known fact that the Majjistral Nature & History Park was created by a PN Government back in 2007 as a project with the aim to protect the landscape and biodiversity in the area."