The "slap in the face" of the Prime Minister calling hunting enforcement unsatisfactory will spur Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Rights Clint Camilleri to crack the whip this spring hunting season, BirdLife's CEO believes.
Mark Sultana says that Joseph Muscat's criticism will sting Mr Camilleri, who as a licensed hunter must "prove he's not biased" and ensure hunters play by the rules.
Whether that is a pipe dream or well-founded hope remains to be seen, and Mr Sultana is the first to acknowledge that now things must move "from words to facts".
Nevertheless, the Birdlife CEO is far more bullish about the organisation's longer-term lobbying efforts: "Spring hunting has an expiry date," he says. "It will stop, for a number of reasons."
In this Times Talk interview, Mr Sultana says that the Labour Party's massive electoral victory led some hunters to feel they could "get away with murder" and admits he remains "baffled" by Joseph Muscat's flip-flopping on the issue.
As for talk of second spring hunting referendum, Mr Sultana admits BirdLife is caught between critics who say the calls are sour grapes and proponents who urge them to forge forward.
What is certain, Mr Sultana says, is that Birdlife will always keep the referendum option on the table - most notably now that the electorate has been expanded to include 16- and 17-year-olds.
But politicians should stay out of the matter, he says.
"When we go for a referendum, we're saying 'this is the people's decision. And knowing that some people will rely on politicians to tell them what to say... that can be misguiding."
Watch the full Times Talk interview in the video above.
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