Gonzi: We will continue to govern for as long as we enjoy the confidence of the House
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said today that the PN will remain in government for as long as it enjoys the confidence of the House.
He also told supporters at a Mass Meeting on the granaries that the PN would go for the general election proud of what it had achieved in difficult times and with fresh ideas and enthusiasm for a better future.
Speaking at the conclusion of the PN celebrations of the 48th anniversary of independence, Dr Gonzi also outlined the PN's vision for various sectors.
The meeting was opened by PN General Secretary Paul Borg Olivier, who spoke on how the Maltese economy had continued to move forward and the number of gainfully occupied continued to rise. He also hit out at the Labour Party, saying its front bench included many people who had shamed Malta when they were in government. H
The following is the address by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi as it unfolded:
9.15 p.m. Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi is introduced by Paul Borg Olivier as the person who gave economic independence to Malta. The National Anthem is sung by Chiara and Ludwig. Crowd chants Ole' Ole' Ole' Nazzjonalisti.
Dr Gonzi starts with Huti Maltin u Ghawdxin, the same way as Eddie Fenech Adami used to start his speeches.
9.20 p.m. Applause as Dr Gonzi recalls George Borg Olivier and his declaration of Independence.
Independence, he says, sealed Malta's national identity and launched Malta into a new exciting adventure by a proud people. He recalls how Dr Borg Olivier used to tell the people not to be discouraged and to grab all opportunities that come their way.
That call had been heeded and would continue to be heeded.
Independence was the mother of all change, a change process which the PN was committed to continue.
9.29 p.m. Dr Gonzi says it was disgraceful that the Opposition in its events was not recalling and recognising the importance of Independence.
9.31 p.m. Dr Gonzi says the PN was always on the right side of history including its choices for independence and EU membership. That was thanks to the values in which it was rooted including truth, democracy, freedom in its many forms, solidarity, justice, jobs, health and education.
9.36 p.m. Dr Gonzi says the PN is built on the policy of persuasion - borrowing a phrase from the late Prof Guido de Marco. He also insists that speaking about values does not make a person antiquated because values are the guiding principles on which the PN bases its decisions. He asks how anyone can trust those who do not say on what they base their decisions.
9.40 p.m. Dr Gonzi asked how anyone could trust those in opposition who were promising everything under the sun. It was only the PN which could guarantee jobs, he insists.
The opposition was not even showing respect for human dignity. How could anyone say that people in a boat should not be rescued because they were not in Malta's waters? How could anyone endanger anyone's life? What values were these?
9.43 p.m. Society was changing and the PN needed to continue to change as well, but values should continue to be a guiding light.
9.46 p.m. Dr Gonzi says the past four years had seen problems and difficulties of every kind, economic and political as well as conflict in Tunisia, Egypt and then Libya. At the same time the Opposition, despite having a new leader elected with much promise, had continued where his predecessor left off, criticising everything and giving the wrong advice to the country. These were the people who praised Cyprus and criticised Malta and the reality now was that Malta had achieved what other countries did not.
9.48 p.m. The Opposition had been saying for three years that an election was approaching. "The election will be called when we decide, in the national interest," Dr Gonzi says.
The Opposition had been unethical in the media and created hurdles in parliament, including several no confidence votes, but the government still moved ahead.
"We are continuing to govern and we will continue to govern for as long as we enjoy the confidence of the House as we have a duty to do and in respect to the rules of democracy".
9.52 pm. Dr Gonzi warns that irresponsible promises could land Malta in the same situation as other countries, which have been reduced to begging international institutions for funds. It only needed a couple of mistakes for this to come about, and the people should be careful not to make a wrong choice which would drive the country into a wall.
9.54 p.m. Dr Gonzi says the government had to take tough decisions to ensure that Malta continued to progress and create jobs. More needed to be done, such as stopping abuse of the workers. "When you receive your pay cheque, remember that the PN government was there when you needed it, to safeguard your job".
10 p.m. Dr Gonzi lays stress on the PN government's record in education and health. He underlines the provision of a free medical service, free medicines and the fact that 44,000 operations were performed in state hospitals last year.
He underlines work in roads, technology, water quality, seawater quality, energy.
"These are the results which the PN will demonstrate in the election in the coming weeks and months. The PN was able to do so much in turbulent times, imagine what we can do when the weather turns fine," Dr Gonzi says to applause.
10.02 p.m. Dr Gonzi speaks on the European dimension of independent Malta. Says the PN is the party of the present and the future, with fresh ideas, energy, vision and determination to overcome the challenges ahead.
"There are exciting times ahead, with new opportunities for all those who have confidence in themselves. We won in the past, and we will triumph again," he says to further applause.
He insists however, that no victory is coincidental but is the result of hard work.
10.06 p.m. Dr Gonzi says the PN wants a stronger Europe which better consolidates its resources in order to be more competitive. A stronger Europe would mean better jobs and more export opportunities for Malta. The PN was proud to have been the party which piloted Malta into the harbour of EU membership while others opposed it and now spoke otherwise.
THE ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN
10.10 p.m. Dr Gonzi says the PN would go for the election with its head high after having achieved good results in difficult times, while having fresh ideas and a vision for the future. "The people know where they stand with the PN."
For the future, Gonzi said the PN wanted to continue to modernise the economy by giving the workforce the best tools for progress, particularly in technology.
It wanted parents to continue to have a choice of the best schools, whether state, independent or Church-run.
A future PN government would be committed to continue to build new schools, strengthen the University, Mcast and the other education institutions.
It wanted to ensure that factories had the necessary trained workers, and energy rates which are competitive.
It would continue to provide incentives and assistance to help the self-employed, also including also farmers and fishermen.
The PN in government wanted Gozo to continue to be an attraction to the Maltese and foreigners while being able to create more jobs. More studies would be made on the viability of a tunnel and if viable, the project would go ahead.
The PN was also committed to an improved environment in Malta and Gozo.
The PN wanted to see a Malta which was confident in itself, proud, stable and welcoming.
10.21 p.m. Dr Gonzi pays tribute to George Borg Olivier, Eddie Fenech Adami, Guido de Marco, Louis Galea, Censu Tabone, Ugo Mifsud Bonnici and says that in such times he also wished to say a word of encouragement to Michael Refalo and Herbert Messina Ferrante.
He also thanks the group of PN candidates, new and old, saying they represented experience, enthusiasm, energy, ethics and ideas. They were evidence of how the PN renewed itself.
The people would soon be asked to make their choice, Dr Gonzi says, and he was sure the people would choose the party which took Malta to Europe, which created jobs, provided education and health and was always on the right side of history.
"The PN is the choice which suits you, look ahead with courage and determination," Dr Gonzi concludes. "The choice is yours, the future beckons and we are ready for the challenges and the opportunities. Viva Malta, Viva Malta Indipendenti."
The address ends with the singing of the PN anthem. Significantly, Health Minister Joseph Cassar stands right next to the Prime Minister - on the same day that Franco Debono reiterated his intention to move a no-confidence motion in the minister.
The PN anthem is followed by the PN campaign songs of the past few general elections.