New beginnings always promise change and a fresh start. The start of this new year must have heralded a stream of resolutions from many of us intent on putting our lives in order, eating healthier and generally living better.

On the political front, it was pretty much the same scenario, with many of us longing for a new year free from the political scandals that marked the previous one. 2015 will most certainly go down as an annus horribilis for the Labour government, as story after story, scandal after scandal, discredited the government’s operation and irreparably dented Joseph Muscat’s supposedly teflon-clad image.

What was characteristic and consistent in our Prime Minister’s behaviour in 2015 was the lack of transparency, lack of credible justification, failure to ask for resignations, irregularities, secret pacts and a sweeping penchant to merchandise anything available with apparent indifference to public opinion and the national interest. All this accompanied with a grin and massive tongue in cheek!

Muscat’s brand has moved from transparency and accountability to incompetence and devastating squandering in too short a time, and the lowering of standards has shocked many to the core. This is a source of anxiety for many goodwilled citizens who have our nation’s best interests at heart.

A resultant force of this unbridled feeding frenzy of some in the Labour government has been a sharp decline of public trust in politics. Trusting politicians may sound paradoxical to many, however the fact is that trust lies at the very foundation of our democracy and failure to embrace it would indeed threaten our values and beliefs.

It is for this reason among others that the Nationalist Party has committed itself to restoring trust in local politics with a document now available for public consultation. ‘Restoring Trust in Politics – Proposals for Good Governance’ is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Leader Simon Busuttil does not mince words in the introduction of this significant document, saying that he wants the Nationalist Party to rise to the occasion and take on the challenge to restore public trust in politics.

One is immediately struck by how abuse of power, misuse of public funds,unethical and inappropriate behaviour and favouritism are affecting our daily lives

Quite a daunting task, one might think. When reading through the set of proposals put forward for good governance, however, one is immediately struck by how abuse of power, misuse of public funds, unethical and inappropriate behaviour and favouritism are in fact affecting our daily lives as we know them.

The Nationalist Party has identified 10 problems threatening good governance in Malta which are also threatening 10 basic principles which should serve as the basis of good governance for any government.

Busuttil is convinced that he can commit the PN with a renewed determination to honesty, fairness, impartiality and competence – all essential ingredients of a government worthy of the people’s trust. Because in politics trust must never be taken for granted and with this in mind, the Nationalist Party is seeking ways to ensure that good governance policies are entrenched in the country once and for all.

The document being presented comes up with 10 proposals for this, although it is by no means entirely exhaustive.

The proposals are striking for a number of reasons. First of all, it is a first for a party in opposition to present proposals intended to chart a new beginning in good governance midway through a legislature. Such a commitment seeks to secure a pact with the Maltese public on how the Nationalist Party intends to govern once it regains the people’s trust.

This is no electoral manifesto loaded with glittering promises of deliverables which are bound exclusively to your vote, but an intensely thought-provoking scrutiny of where problems lie, what solutions are on offer and what the Nationalist Party is binding itself to as a guideline for reintroducing the best governance in this country.

Secondly, it is a reflection of how far the party has come since losing the people’s trust in 2013. As said before, trust cannot be bought, only earned, and Busuttil, as leader of the Nationalist Party, is hereby presenting a pact, based on trust, between citizens and their elected representatives.

Irrespective of one’s political opinion or affiliation, I feel that the document deserves a read. It can be found at partitnazzjonalista/docs/pn_goodgov_document_dec15_mlt_v2_lr/1, in both Maltese and English.

It certainly makes for inspiring reading in the light of the number of cases that we have witnessed in the past year which have left a dark shadow over the government’s practices.

Caroline Galea is a Nationalist candidate in the fourth and sixth districts.

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