[WATCH] Joseph Muscat puts spotlight on the environment at the start of electoral campaign

The Prime Minister said that he would not just pack his things and leave suddenly when his time is up but irrespective of where he might be, he would make sure that country was still making advances

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat kicking off Labour's electoral campaign at Labour's Annual General Conference
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat kicking off Labour's electoral campaign at Labour's Annual General Conference

“Progress has its consequences.” So conceded Muscat at the start of his speech that kicked off Labour’s electoral campaign for the upcoming local council and MEP elections.

“Progress has its consequences, but the consequences of progress are preferred over the consequences of a stagnant country. The latter will happen if people vote for a party that has no new ideas, a party which is in a worse state than before,” Muscat said, referring to the Nationalist Party.

His speech closed off Labour ’s Annual General Conference held at Labour Centre in Hamrun.

Muscat put a spotlight on the consequences of progress at the start of his speech—dust and traffic among other things—but said that this was inevitable.

“Even if we paint our house, we’re going to have consequences. So what? We don’t work on our roads? We’re not going to find excuses not to carry out work,” he said.

Muscat stressed, however, that the government was on its way towards a plan to provide for more open spaces and while he didn’t specify the where and how, he said that a new project would soon be inaugurated.

“We will be announcing a large project where the government will convert a zone in our country to become the biggest project of open public space in an entire generation,” he said.

Muscat characteristically justified proliferating progress and infrastructural projects around the country by saying that the garnering of wealth was the foundation for everything.

“We were pro-business, we are pro-business, we will always be pro-business. Good quality work is based on good business. It is through that that we can improve the quality of life of our people—providing free childcare, free school transport, an increase in pensions. You have to make millions to be able to spend them.

“Our country is central to everything we do, in every circumstance. And that is why Malta’s in our hearts. This isn’t a cry for just this electoral campaign, it should be the motto of every party, where every choice and decision is made with Malta’s interests in mind. We love our country always, not just when we’re in government,” Muscat said.

'Malta f'qalbna' is Labour's motto for the electoral campaign that kicked off on Sunday 28 April
'Malta f'qalbna' is Labour's motto for the electoral campaign that kicked off on Sunday 28 April

Malta f’qalbna (Malta’s in our hearts) is Labour’s motto for the electoral campaign.

Muscat kicked off his speech with former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff’s rallying cry of Malta l-ewwel u qabel kollox (Malta first and foremost).

For this reason, he said, the government was focusing on three main priorities: infrastructure, innovation, and inclusion.

“By infrastructure I don’t just mean our roads. I mean social infrastructure, the legal infrastructure, the constitutional changes, digitalisation, environmental infrastructure,” he said.

Muscat said that now that certain progress was made, that it was no longer a question of people asking for jobs or for better wages but for more time to spend with their families, the focus would be on providing good-quality, aesthetically-pleasing areas for that family time to be spent in.

He also made mention of the ubiquitous criticism of rising rents and unaffordable properties and said that the government would soon be announcing a “large, affordable housing project.”

“Malta was always innovative, otherwise we wouldn’t have survived. Malta never had natural resources,” Muscat said. “We need to start preparing our children for the work of tomorrow—AI, blockchain, automation, robotics. Skills of today are not enough for the factories of tomorrow.”

Muscat said that it was for this reason that Malta was a “cosmopolitan” nation, because it was based on a model of diversified economy where no particular sector dominates.

He insisted that Malta’s economic success had made sure that Maltese people would no longer feel the need to leave for better pastures.

“It’s now a question of foreigners needing us for work, coming to Malta to find work. I prefer having a foreign company working in Malta with more foreign workers coming to Malta and it keeps expanding here rather than a company that choose to closes its doors and go somewhere else,” he said, adding that if this were to happen, it would be the most vulnerable in Maltese society to suffer the brunt of it.

“I will not stop suddenly,” he said, alluding to his reiterations that he would not run for office in the next general election. He said that he would keep working for the country wherever his office might be in the future.

“You can say that I’m a socialist. You can call me a socialist democrat, a progressive, a liberal, a European. But call me Maltese first and foremost,” he said.

He asked voters to compare him to Opposition Leader Adrian Delia and to decide who between them looks like he is better prepared for the future and who is equipped with the better ideas.