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‘It is natural for me to both serve and listen’

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

PN candidate Mario Rizzo Naudi says Labour is just splashing out money in this campaign. He also tells Christian Peregin the Nationalists are slowly gaining confidence and the people are gaining confidence in the party.

Profile

Age: 60
Profession: Family doctor
District: 4 and 5
Residence: Għaxaq

What is your background and why have you decided to contest the election?

I voted against (divorce) because I believe you should try today, try tomorrow, eliminate the difficulties and fight those emotions.

I’ve been in politics since 1971 but I did the dirty work for the candidate... I usually do the canvassing for the party and if people want to meet Mr X, I fix an appointment for them. I’m a family man and I love my profession. Now that my family has settled down, my wife and I decided I can give more of my time and energy to the people.

Why the Nationalist Party?

The PN shares my ideals. I’ve been a Christian Democrat since I was a student. The PN is the party that really helps people and is not interested in its own gain.

Over the past five years, support for the PN seems to have dwindled, even internally. Why?

If you are in Government working hard, you tend to lose a bit because sometimes people are not satisfied with what you are doing. Maybe they need something and you cannot help them out so they talk against you. It is very easy to criticise but much more difficult to work and provide ideas.

But did the party lose touch?

The party did its job. Look around us. See the way we’re living. The environment we live in, the schools, the jobs... Those are milestones that the Nationalist Party has achieved.

If elected, what type of MP will you be?

People who know me know it is natural for me to serve people, be a good doctor and listen.

What are the issues that concern you most about society today?

Health, first and foremost. But not only health in terms of treating a person. Even helping one live in a healthy environment is part of it. I also believe in education.

In Malta we have the approach of providing health and education services for free. Economists have warned that healthcare costs could be unsustainable, how do you view this problem?

I don’t consider it to be a problem at all to be honest as long as you have sound finances and the Government is collecting VAT and making everyone pay their taxes to ensure we have the money.

The PN has approved a manifesto that attempts to move on from its opposition to divorce. How did you view PN’s position against divorce?

I found it objectionable that someone would bring up such a hot issue in Parliament when it was not in the programme of any elected party. I’m a Catholic and pro-family man. But I do understand and appreciate that not all marriages are sound.

So did you vote in favour of divorce?

No, I voted against because I believe you should try today, try tomorrow, eliminate the difficulties and fight those emotions.

One thing I would say is that if a woman, or a man, is living in an environment where they are beaten or not given the right subsidy to run a household, then I believe they should separate. After all, the country can grant you a divorce, but would the Church? For the Church, you are still married.

But not everyone in Malta is Catholic.

If someone is Muslim or atheist, God bless them. It is their personal decision and I will not put up a fight or convince them to be a Catholic because it is not my job. But I will try to guide them about the problems of a divorce, because at the end of the day, when adults separate, what happens to the children? They become mine, yours and ours.

After the first week of the campaign, which party is emerging strongest?

I would say the Nationalists are slowly gaining confidence and the people are gaining confidence in them. I think the other side is splashing out money.

This is the first time the PN is complaining about Labour’s funding. Does this tell us something about how the PN is handling its own finances?

Nowadays we have to know the value of money. We appreciate that we’re moving but we’re not high flyers like Germany. And even Germany is keeping its finances in check. The Nationalist Party is keeping in that line.

Austerity measures for the party?

You have to be like that. Even me, at home. If I don’t need something, why should I get it?

The PN has spent five years criticising Labour for not coming up with any proposals. Now, Labour started the campaign with proposals and the PN approved a declaration of principles.

We have been building Malta since 1987. The manifesto is a confirmation of where we are and where we want to go. I can assure you that in the next two weeks we will have the proper electoral programme.

One of the things the PN highlights through its logo is diversity. Isn’t this rich coming from a party that objected to divorce, implemented a restrictive IVF law and failed to provide any tangible gay rights or pass a cohabitation Bill?

We never said we don’t want divorce but no one had discussed it before at party level to see what line we should take. Gays? Yes, why not? We are in favour of them. If you are gay, you are not a sick person. It is something in you. I, as a doctor, understand these people. I understand their frustration.

What about translating it to actual rights, like civil unions?

Let’s put it this way. Civil union, like marriage between gays, is a bit difficult. Let’s move cautiously. They have a right to live together, they have a right to be partners and they should be helped. Why? Imagine two gay people living together for 10 years, and all of a sudden one of them chucks his or her partner out. What happens to the one in the road?

The party has had 25 years to solve this problem and it didn’t.

It is not an easy task. We had so many problems in these past five years. Did we really have time for proper discussions?

The fifth district has been fraught with controversy. Franco Debono and Hermann Schiavone were both not allowed to contest. Is internal politics at play?

Both Franco and Hermann are friends of mine. We are all Nationalists. But everyone has his way of doing politics. I’m not one who goes for confrontation. If the party feels that Franco or Hermann should not contest, it is up to the party to decide. I don’t go into this matter.

What are the chances of you being elected considering there are heavyweights in your district like David Casa and Jason Azzopardi as well as Manuel Delia?

They say doctors have a better chance of obtaining personal votes and of making it to Parliament. If that is true then I believe I could be occupying one of the four seats in those two districts because I don’t see the Nationalists gaining more than two seats in both.

If you are elected, would you accept a seat on the backbench?

As long as I’m serving the country and the people who have elected me, if I have to be on the backbench, yes, I will stay on the backbench.

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