Muscat likens Opposition’s situation to ‘the tail wagging the dog’

Prime Minister says Opposition is like an automated car, driven not by AI but by nonsense

Joseph Muscat was addressing party faithful at an event at the Labour Party club in Msida on Sunday morning
Joseph Muscat was addressing party faithful at an event at the Labour Party club in Msida on Sunday morning

Updated at 1.20pm with David Casa's reaction to Joseph Muscat's comments on Helena Dalli's grilling

Joseph Muscat has compared the Opposition to a “driverless car”, but one which isn’t controlled by Artificial Intelligence but by nonsense.

The Prime Minister said the idiom of “the tail wagging the dog” fit the situation the Opposition found itself in.

“People say they feel the country is moving forward and in the right direction, and that many problems have been solved, although there are new challenges - but it is only this government and movement which can solve these problems,” Muscat said, “With the others, you don’t find any [substance]. The Opposition is like a driverless car - you ask yourself who is driving, who is steering it? It’s like an automated vehicle, but instead of AI, they’re specialising in natural nonsense.”

“The British have a phrase… ‘the tail wagging the dog.’ The dog should be the one wagging its tail. In this case, the tail is wagging the dog,” he said.

Muscat, who was speaking during an event at the Labour club in Msida on Sunday, lamented that it wasn’t even clear who within the Opposition to speak to when something had to be discussed.

He went on to highlight that Commissioner for Standards George Hyzler had this week confirmed, after looking into the matter, that Cabinet members had not had their salaries increased.

“[The Opposition] had claimed Cabinet [ministers’ and parliamentary secertaries’] salaries had been raised. The Commissioner for Standards has now said that none of this was true. Who will shoulder responsibility for this proven lie?” Muscat asked.

Touching on Helena Dalli’s grilling by MEPs on Wednesday, Muscat - without making direct reference to PN MEP David Casa - said there were those who had attempted to discredit Dalli right until the final hour of her hearing before the European Parliament. They had, however, failed in doing this, he said.

“They tried to cause damage, right till the last hour of Helena Dalli’s grilling, to try to get her rejected,” he said, “I ask the Opposition leader: did those who tried [to discredit her], but failed, do so with your blessing, or behind your back? If they did it with your blessing, admit you actually opposed Dalli. If it was behind your back, be a man and take action now.”

Need for more pharmacists

On economic matters, the Prime Minister said Malta’s economy was strong because it was diversified, and didn’t rely on just one sector.

“What puts my mind at rest is that the Maltese economy isn’t dependent on financial services, tourism, gaming, manufacturing… each sector is equivalent in importance. So, if there is a problem in one of them, everything doesn’t collapse, as the other sectors make up for it. This is what sustainability is. And we will be creating new sectors so if something happens in the future, we will have [new sectors] on which to rest,” he said.

On construction, Muscat said that it wasn't the economy which was growing because of construction, but construction which was happening because of economic expansion. "And it is not I who is saying this. There are reports, such as one by KPMG."

What was bothering people about the construction industry, he said, was greed.

"I told those in construction that what is bothering people is greed. It can’t be that one tries to take everything for themselves. We must have a bigger vision. We need respect for each other. I don’t believe people are jealous. I think everyone expects a fair deal," he said. 

"This government could turn a blind eye to this, and just rest knowing the numbers are in its favour. But we can’t just let things remain as they are. We have to realise there are challenges."

He also highlighted that, when it came to the sector concerning chemists, while there were currently vacancies for 177 places in this area, only 13 Maltese and 13 foreign students had applied to join the chemistry course at the University this year.

Once medical cannabis product starts, the 177 vacancies for chemists will rise to 250, he said.

“Therefore, we need to find solutions. And the solution, to me, isn’t […] to ask factories to stop coming to Malta. This is investment which will improve Maltese people’s salaries and they will be paying tax in Malta. My job is to attract more investment,” he said, to cheers for the party faithful in attendance.

The challenge now, he underlined, what to manage economic growth in a sustainable manner. “And sustainability does not mean that [the country’s economy] stops growing and moving forward.”

The government’s aim, he noted, was simple. “Our aim is to strengthen the middle class, to build a new middle class, to eradicate poverty, to care for our elderly, to give our young people prospects for the future.”

Ultimately, the goal was to create what former Nationalist Prime Minister George Borg Olivier used to call “little rich men”, Muscat added.

Helena Dalli threw Muscat under the bus - David Casa

Reacting to Muscat’s statement in connection with Dalli’s hearing, Casa said that Muscat was the only one who had failed during the grilling.

Writing on Twitter, the PN MEP said Dalli had “thrown [Muscat] under the bus]" for having done nothing in the face of corruption.