‘Unfinished business’ for deputy PM Chris Fearne

Health Minister lines up priorities before summer break

Chris Fearne. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Chris Fearne. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Having just taken part in two gruelling election campaigns on a national and party level, the new Deputy Prime Minister, Chris Fearne, says some unfinished business remains before he can take a well-deserved break in August.

Mr Fearne, who fended off stiff competition from Finance Minister Edward Scicluna to secure the role of Labour deputy leader for parliamentary affairs on Saturday, told the Times of Malta he had a number of health-related projects he wanted to set in motion before taking a break.

The 54-year-old pediatric surgeon said that he also wanted to come to grips with his new rule as Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the House before finding some time for a summer break with his wife next month.

Both roles were vacated by Louis Grech, who did not contest the last general election.

Mr Fearne said that, as Deputy Prime Minister, he saw himself as the Prime Minister’s right-hand man. He said the government had a clear and ambitious electoral manifesto during its second term in office, which was now being converted into a programme of work.

“With my background in the Labour Party, I am keen to see the continued development of our social security structure, especially in respect of social housing, the eradication of poverty and the maintenance of an excellent and free health service”.

Mr Fearne said he was totally on board with the Prime Minister’s vision of a liberal society and increased participation of women and youths in the political sphere.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said yesterday it was time to discuss the introduction of gender quotas in Parliament with the Opposition. 

A number of Nationalist MPs, including leadership hopeful Chris Said, congratulated Mr Fearne on his new roles.

Asked if he could see himself working with the Opposition in areas of mutual interest, Mr Fearne yesterday said the best way to do politics was to find ways in which the country could move forward.

He said there would naturally be matters of principle on which the government and Opposition would not agree.

Yet, he added, where there was obvious agreement, the sensible thing would be to cooperate.

“If anything, we can compete on who has the best ideas rather than on who can hurl the harshest insults,” Mr Fearne said.

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