Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Sunday called out the "hypocrisy" of those who lamented abortion as the killing of human lives, yet had had no concern for migrants stuck out at sea.

“To me human life isn’t a relative issue. If there are some who go and bang on their chest at Our Lady of Sorrows and cry over abortion as the killing of human lives, as some did this weekend, well migrants at sea are human lives too.”

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Dr Muscat said, adding that he could not stomach certain people’s hypocrisy any longer.

The Labour leader was weighing in on tensions between Malta and Italy over the migration issue which once again came to the fore in recent days.

He was speaking at the Labour Party's Mellieha club, the day after Malta reached a deal with four EU countries over the fate of 64 migrants who were picked up by an NGO vessel close to the Libyan coast.

The deal will see the migrants redistributed to Germany, France, Portugal and Luxembourg.

In today’s political climate, Dr Muscat said, there were few black and white issues, but situations where all options really needed to be weighed before a final decision is taken.

One such situation presented itself last week.

A boat registered to a German NGO, had picked up the 64 migrants in distress close to the Libyan coast.

Rather than returning to Libya or heading to Tunisia, they opted for the Italian territory of Lampedusa.

However, when they were refused entry there, the vessel came to Malta and brought with it international pressure to open the island’s ports.

“We have to accept that in today’s society, we face pressure. But we won’t tolerate a situation where Malta gets portrayed as being to blame for this situation,” he said.

Another 64 people on the island would not have made a difference, he said, adding however that there was a principle at stake.

With summer on its way, so too was a high tide of migration and this was the context the government was operating it.

Malta could have gone down the Italian government’s route and said the island’s ports were closed.

This, Dr Muscat said, would have be popular on social media, and would certainly have won the government votes. But it would also have risked human lives.

Instead the government went down the third route, of finding a European solution.

This, he said, had seen other governments agree to take on the 64 migrants the moment they landed in Malta.

“This is the sensible way of doing things. The common sense approach,” he said, sparking applause from party supporters at the news that none of the migrants remained in Malta.

Later in his speech, Dr Muscat told those gathered about an Indian pharmaceutical company, Aurobindo, which he visited last week. This, he said, was living proof that multiculturalism can help create jobs.

The company provided quality jobs for Maltese which would not be possible without foreign workers that met it’s labour force demands.

This, Dr Muscat said was how metropolitanism worked, “not extremist propaganda that foreigners are taking jobs”.

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