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‘We don’t need new direction’

Lawrence Gonzi being greeted by a supporter at the PN’s extraordinary general council meeting last night. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Lawrence Gonzi being greeted by a supporter at the PN’s extraordinary general council meeting last night. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Malta did not need a change in direction, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday after the Nationalist Party approved its manifesto.

“We are not in the position of Cyprus, Spain or Portugal. Why should we change direction? Just so Joseph Muscat can become Prime Minister?”

Dr Gonzi said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had praised Malta’s economy and “torpedoed” the advice given by the Labour leader, who had suggested that Malta should follow the footsteps of Cyprus, which was now asking for a bailout.

Labour had tried to change direction in the past and drove the country into a wall, he said.

Advising people not to trust Labour’s energy proposal, he compared it to the party’s failed promise to remove VAT in 1996.

Another “gimmick” was made in 2003 when Labour promised a tax holiday and again in 2008 when it pledged to halve the surcharge on electricity tariffs.

Dr Gonzi promised that the PN would present its own proposals on energy soon.

“Ours will make sense and everyone will understand them,” he said.

The difference between the two parties was that the PN spoke with its head held high, backed by its achievements, but Labour was ashamed of its past to the point that it had even abandoned the colour it was traditionally associated with it: red.

Dr Gonzi promised to continue working on generating employment, improving the quality of education and guaranteeing healthcare.

Before Dr Gonzi’s address, the PN councillors unanimously approved the party’s manifesto, a declaration of principles on which it would build its electoral programme.

The extraordinary general council, held at the party headquarters in Pietà, was characterised by the prominent involvement of a diverse array of election candidates, including a blind lawyer and a woman who battled cancer.

Gozitan candidate Kevin Cutajar thanked the PN for choosing his “historic” candidature while Evelyn Vella Brincat praised the Government for introducing the expensive cancer treatment herceptine free of charge.

PN heavyweights also addressed the council, most notably Finance Minister Tonio Fenech who was welcomed with loud cheers and MP Beppe Fenech Adami, who rallied the crowd into a standing ovation with a passionate speech in which he stressed that the party deserved to win the next election.

Mr Fenech attacked Labour’s energy proposals and warned the party would bring the country to its knees with its incorrect projections.

Deputy leader Simon Busuttil said the manifesto expressed the party’s roots and vision. Calling on the party to show strength by admitting its mistakes, he urged voters not to take the “normality” in the country for granted.

Attacking Labour’s credibility on the EU, he said the PN wanted the country to become more Maltese and more European.

Dr Busuttil said the PN would be presenting serious proposals, unlike Labour’s, which could not be believed.

General secretary Paul Borg Olivier said the party’s electoral programme would be published and approved on January 21 at another general council meeting.

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