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Gonzi insists on Muscat reply to campaign's 'biggest story'

Building on the fight against cancer

Gonzi insists on Muscat reply to campaign's 'biggest story'. Video: Paul Spiteri Lucas

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi this morning urged the media not to forget "the biggest news item in the electoral campaign", referring to the interview of Anglu Farrugia in The Sunday Times.

Responding to questions during a press conference on the PN's health proposals, Dr Gonzi said Labour leader Joseph Muscat must respond to the "serious allegations" made by Labour's former second in command.

The allegations, Dr Gonzi said, were aggravated by Labour's confirmation and admission that it had met up with "disgruntled" businessmen. Acknowledging that Labour had actually said it met "betrayed" businessmen, Dr Gonzi said this made things even worse.

Dr Gonzi was asked why he was so scandalised with these meetings when his own secretary generals had gone on boat trips with contractor Zaren Vassallo, who was awarded tenders such as the one of the BWSC power station.

Without replying about that case, Dr Gonzi again referred to the allegations made by Dr Farrugia, saying these had "serious implications" and should be responded to by Dr Muscat if he had respect for public opinion.

Asked to explain what he felt was wrong about meeting businessmen, Dr Gonzi said Dr Farrugia made many other allegations, including that he was uncomfortable in the party and that Dr Muscat had committed political murder.

Urging the press to ask Dr Muscat to respond to these questions, he wondered whether the Labour leader would continue to run away from answering.

Building on the fight against cancer

Earlier in the press conference, Dr Gonzi outlined the party's plans to keep fighting cancer, building on the "momentum" of the past five years. 

Reiterating his strong belief that Malta could continue to afford free healthcare if it continued to set the right priorities and maintain sound finances, Dr Gonzi said the Government had a "duty" to keep free healthcare sustainable. 

Dr Gonzi again slammed Dr Muscat for not retracting his claim that the Delimara power station was a cancer factory. In fact, Malta had the second lowest cancer incidence rate and the seventh lowest cancer mortality rate, said Dr Gonzi.

He said the national screening centre had already widened its remit from breast cancer to include colon cancer. In the next legislature this would also be extended to cervix screening as well as other age groups. The centre had so far screened 15,000 women and saved more than 160 lives by tracing cancer early.

Dr Gonzi also boasted about increasing services to cancer patients in the Gozo hospital, saying he was proud of what had been achieved so far. Asked about criticism by Dr Stephen Brincat, who had resigned citing differences, Dr Gonzi urged Dr Brincat to remain active in society and said that despite the administrative issues Dr Brincat raised, Gozo patients were now being treated without having to cross to Malta.

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating," he added.

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