Allegations that an Enemalta procurement committee member received kickbacks from an oil procurement company "helped explain" institutional resistance to switching to gas-powered energy generation, Labour leader Joseph Muscat said this afternoon.

The PL leader challenged Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi to say whether he or his advisers had at any point gotten wind of the corruption allegations. 

"Now we're starting to understand what goes on," he said. "To those who ask why we need a change in direction, I say this is why. So Malta is no longer of the few and for the few, but Malta for all".

Dr Muscat was speaking at a PL mass meeting in Rabat. He attacked the government for having "missed two opportunities" to switch to gas-powered energy, first in 2003 and then in 2008.

"This government refused a free pipeline and now wants us to wait another eight or 10 years for a pipeline costing hundreds of millions of euros. And meanwhile we'll continue with heavy fuel oil, while others line their pockets with oil commissions."

Dr Muscat emphasised the need to move away from tribal politics. "I am part of the generation that wants a new chapter in our history. Division be-gets division, the biggest gift we can give the future is a united country, which debates and argues but finds a middle road," he said. 

He touched upon the party's vow to provide free childcare to all children under the age of three, and said the proposal would be followed by others aimed at encouraging women to enter full-time employment. 

The PL leader ended his address with a crescendo, playing on the party's Malta for all slogan. 

Work is for all, social mobility is for all, accountability and the right to clean politics is for all, Malta for all," he said, struggling to make himself heard over the cheering crowd. 

Lawyer Robert Abela, who addressed the crowd before Dr Muscat, told his audience that the party had "acknowledged and paid for its past mistakes," and that it was committed to never repeating them.

He said that the recent downgrade by ratings agency Standards and Poor had "discredited" the government's economic management, and rather than address the weaknesses highlighted by the ratings agency, the government had tried to pin the blame elsewhere. 

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