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Yes, I am a Nationalist: so what?

After having answered the questions put to me during Bondi + about shipping LNG – Liquified Natural Gas (not liquefied nitrogen gas as I erroneously stated in my intrductory remarks) Konrad Mizzi stated that I cannot be considered as an independent specialist because I am a Nationalist.

I was asked a set of questions about its method of carriage by sea – and I answered them
- Ann Fenech

Yes, I am a Nationalist: so what? I find this comment by Mizzi most disconcerting for three reasons. The first is that he appears to be stating that any individual who has specialised in any area of activity (law included) cannot possibly hold a personal political opinion. The second is that he is assuming that because I am a Nationalist, then that automatically means that I am incapable of giving an objective opinion about my specialised subject being maritime law.

The third reason is that while Mizzi certainly does not represent the past of the Labour Party, but represents the present and the future, from this personal experience, I am not particularly enamoured by this type of politics going forward because it is very reminiscent of Labour’s past and I don’t like that at all.

On a personal level, I wish him luck in his career as indeed I wish good luck to several good friends of mine who are members of the Labour Party. These friends and I have always had and will continue to have healthy debates and have on many an occasion agreed to disagree. However, I have never ever put, am not putting and will never ever put my personal professional integrity of 26 years in jeopardy by being anything but objective in my replies to any specific questions put to me relating to the maritime environment.

As a lawyer specialising in the maritime sector for these past 26 years, I have given opinions to and have advised people and entities coming from literally the four corners of the world, including major ship owners, their P and I Clubs and their Hull and Machinery underwriters, charterers, energy majors, cargo owners, ship yards, ship builders, port authorities, governments, banks and financial institutions and private individuals both foreign and local.

I have advised them in matters relating to different types of cargoes and their carriage, collisions, towage, pilotage, explosions, maritime security, piracy, ship registration and mortgages and marine-related contracts and projects.

Thus my work brings me in touch with an infinite number of subjects ranging from ships, yachts, repair yards, ship building yards, to marinas, damaged or contaminated cargoes of all types such as petroleum, gas, commodities, food products, anything that can be carried, bunkers, fish farms, pipelines and underwater cables and many other subjects connected with the maritime legal issues that are presented before me for an opinion or advice.

This means that over these many years and whenever I have to deal with such issues, I have had to research and study the subject matter in question.

The carriage of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is one of them. I was asked a set of questions and I answered them. My job as a maritime law professional is to read, absorb, analyse, interpret and give an opinion and that is exactly what I have done here.

Of course I am not a gas expert! I am not being asked about the properties of LNG, what it can be used for, what it cannot be used for, how it works, how you store it, how it becomes liquid and how it turns back into gas, about its origins and volumes or about its flexibility or otherwise. I was asked a set of questions about its method of carriage by sea – and I answered them.

Being a Nationalist does not come into the equation and I find it rather disconcerting that this appears to be remotely relevant or important to Mizzi or, that because I am a Nationalist, that means I can no longer be considered to be an independent maritime law specialist.

Mark Anthony Falzon’s column will not be appearing today.

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