Labour leader Joseph Muscat insisted this morning that water tariffs would go down under a Labour government.
He was clearly reacting to yesterday's deputy leaders' debate where PL deputy leader Anglu Farrugia first said the PL had said nothing about reducing water tariffs, but then appeared to back-pedal.
The PN, Dr Muscat said, was trying to twist words. It was now asking whether Labour would raise water bills. But it was well known that half of Malta's water production came from reverse osmosis plants, the highest power consumers in Malta. Therefore, when electricity prices went down, as they would under Labour, water prices would go down too, Dr Muscat said. If the government did not understand this, it had a serious problem of governance.
Earlier, Dr Muscat said the government had collapsed because the prime minister preferred Austin Gatt over stability. The government had gone from one crisis to another and yet the government was saying it was satisfied.
The government was ignoring the crises which the people had suffered and was only interested in itself.
Dr Muscat said Malta needed a change of direction, away from arrogance.
Dr Gonzi had shown no regret over the €500 raise given to the ministers, the Arriva situation, the power station, the higher water and electricity rates and much more.
Dr Muscat described Dr Gonzi and Dr Simon Busuttil as Batman and Robin. He said that Dr Busuttil, with the arrogance he was showing, was appearing to be a more worthy successor of Austin Gatt than Lawrence Gonzi.
The Opposition, he said, could not vote in favour of the Budget because it did not have confidence in the government and did not trust it. The PL had said that its pledge to retain the Budget framework would ensure that the country would not be harmed. That stand was proved by ratings agency Fitch within a few hours.
Under this government, he said, the people had seen the real value of their wages go down by €8.46 since 2008. In 2007 Malta had 78,000 in danger of poverty and in 2001 that went up to 88,000. Under Labour, those who were doing well would continue to do well, but its overall aim would again be to wipe out poverty in line with its mission of social justice, Dr Muscat said to applause.
Labour, he insisted, would build a new middle class.
Dr Muscat said that after the €500 raise issue became public, a leading PN exponent pulled him over and sought an agreement which would also benefit the members of the Opposition. But, Dr Muscat told him, Labour was not for sale (applause). This was the Labour which the people knew. Labour was honest and genuine in what it said and would do (more applause).
Labour did not turn to the people just in the month before the general election but would be with the people always, and everywhere.
The Labour leader said that when Franco Debono used to speak, the Nationalists in Parliament used to hover around him like bees on honey. But once they did not need him any more, Dr Debono was dumped and described as irrelevant. That too would happen to the people after they voted. For Labour, everyone was relevant. Would Dr Busuttil hold a debate with Dr Debono?
He said that Labour remained the underdog in the elections, not just because of the constitutional powers which the prime minister enjoyed, but also the way how PBS had been reduced to a shameful situation. The institutions would be employed against Labour, and one could expect many lies against Labour as happened in the prime minister's comments on the election date, on oil prices, taxation on the minimum wage, and the 20,000 jobs which the government said it had created.
Dr Muscat said Labour would present a roadmap of concrete plans for economic growth. Its campaign would be aim for unity and not scaremongering, as the government was doing.
Stipends would stay, he said, and he also wanted to assure Arriva workers, those joining the civil service, LSA and those in the army, among others. He also wanted to similarly reassure former Nationalists who would vote Labour. What the country needed was change. Labour was the natural home of those who wanted change for the better. He himself had not been born in this movement and joined it out of choice for its principles. Those principles included ensuring that everyone benefited from economic growth.
THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM
Touching on the situation at the law courts, Dr Muscat said one could not have a situation where the people lost confidence in the justice system. Ten years after this sector was rocked, Malta was back to square one. This, alone, showed the need for a change of direction.
The reform had to be far bigger than raising the salaries of judges and extending their retirement age. That was why Labour was promising a comprehensive reform by the end of 2013. It would be a reform which would stretch from the manner of appointment of the members of the judiciary, to the manner of their operation. There needed to be more checks and balances and the Commission for the Administration of Justice needed to be given teeth to function effectively.
ELECTORAL CORRUPT PRACTICE
PL deputy leader Anglu Farrugia in comments before Dr Muscat’s comments, warned that the PL would not tolerate any situation where contractors or employers threatened workers to vote PN.
He referred to a court sentence he revealed on Xarabank yesterday (where an employer was found to have threatened a worker to vote PN in the 2008 general election) Dr Farrugia asked who would be held responsible.
The Electoral Commission should be vigilant and Malta could not go to an election with a repetition of such abuse.
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