Monday, 11 May 2009

MaltaStar: Local News: Migration, employment high on PL agenda

10 May 2009 12:16

Migration, employment high on PL agenda

Immigration, employment, cost of living, divorce and gay rights were among the subjects discussed during a debate between Labour Leader Joseph Muscat and presenter John Bundy held in Rabat on Sunday morning. 

The discussion was part of the Labour Party campaign for the 2009 European Parliament Elections. 

On immigration, Dr Joseph Muscat lambasted the government for wasting time on such an important subject. He mentioned the issue of Burden Sharing as a case in point, where the Gonzi administration rejected the PL suggestion of a mandatory system only to acknowledge it at a later stage. 

Last week, the Maltese cabinet decided that if the European Union continued in its refusal to help Malta, the government would supply migrants’ boats with food and fuel to continue their journey to mainland Europe. This suggestion was already put forward by Muscat, three years ago only to be shot down by the PN. 

Muscat added that immigrants are not to be blamed for this situation. He insisted that the pressure had to be placed on the European authorities to come to the aid of Malta.   

“The European Parliament is no place for softies,” Muscat said, emphasising that one needs to raise his voice to be heard and earn the other nations’ respect. 

Muscat added that had it been for the European conservative parties, foreign workers would have been allowed to work in Malta with less than the minimum wage. Muscat said that at the moment foreign workers are being exploited by ruthless employers for €2 a day to the detriment of other workers. Muscat said that a fair playing field was essential in a just society. 

During the discussion Muscat was also questioned on his views on divorce and gay rights. The Labour leader insisted what he had already stated during the PL leader election campaign that a PL government would pass a free vote on the introduction of divorce.

He also retaliated his opposition to abortion but was in favour of civil partnership. He said that the PN government had still to implement a 10 year old promise on the legislation on the regulation of cohabitation. He also stressed the need to remove the difference between children born within marriage and out of wedlock.

Muscat emphasised the importance of the Catholic Church in Malta, however the government is there to work for everyone. He stressed the PL consistency when it came to gay rights, unlike the PN candidates who had either abstained or voted against on resolutions or reports tabled in the European Parliament on gay rights

During the Gonzi administration, Malta experienced an increase in unemployment of 31%, Muscat said. Thus, Malta needed to create more job opportunities, which also safeguards the dignity of the employees. 

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