Malta will not serve as a hub for the processing of migrants, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat insisted on Sunday, saying that those in distress would be rescued but the country will not accept “anyone dumping things” on Malta.
Speaking during a question and answer session on One Radio, Dr Muscat said that he disagreed with Opposition leader Adrian Delia who, he said, first “flirted with ideas akin to extreme right-wing politics” then came out saying that he wants Malta to be “some European hotspot” where all migrants are brought.
“That is not what I want to happen. We will rescue those in distress but we will not be the place where anyone dumps things on us. That is where Malta becomes the target of traffickers who will think that they can bring the migrants here,” Dr Muscat said.
He reiterated that claims by the Italian government that Malta was not adhering to international laws were false, insisting that all those in distress were always saved but if no assistance was required, the Maltese authorities’ hands were tied and they could not simply take in people who did not want to come here.
“As a government, we are consistent in our policies and attitudes and what I am saying today, I’ve said from day one. We are in the right. We save lives wherever is needed but then we also expect that the rules are obeyed by everyone.
“Now if we want to change international laws, then we sit down and have talks but I will not accept that we break such laws,” the Prime Minister went on.
Moving on to other issues that occurred throughout the week, Dr Muscat said that dismantling of the Delimara power station chimney served as a reminder that air quality had improved. While the 150m chimney had not been used for some time, the symbolic demolition served as a reminder to people in the area that they were no longer forced to take in polluted air.
On the opening of a new health centre in Kirkop on Friday, Dr Muscat said that this was the first such clinic to be opened in 20 years, insisting that this was all part of the government’s plan to improve primary healthcare.
He added that other health centres in different areas were planned for the future, noting that this would help alleviate some of the pressure off the hospital.
On the upcoming Budget, Dr Muscat pledged measures that would continue to ensure that people benefited from a strong economy, noting that he hoped a surplus would once again be reported.
Insisting that the Budget due to be presented on October 22 would be “nothing like the ones the PN used to present a few years after the election”, Dr Muscat said that in the past, people would talk about the Budget with fears that prices and taxes would rise. Now, instead, people were curious as to what benefits they would be enjoying, he said.
Dr Muscat also spoke about the appointment of former PN MP George Hyzler as Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, saying that the appointment did not only mean that politicians would be subject to harsher scrutiny but it also showed that the Labour government was open to “post-partisan politics”.
“We want to send the message that we are more open to the European mentality and that in some nominations there need to be more appointments that are not coming from the government.
"This time round we decided that the person that is appointed is someone from the PN as we have nothing to hide. This sends a strong, institutional sign. Some might criticise us for doing this but I believe that those who take up such roles, rise to the occasion and I believe this will also be the case.
“We want to move towards post-partisan politics and we will go down in history for having reached across the aisle, as the Americans say,” Dr Muscat said.