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[WATCH] Robert Abela promises no rocking of the boat but gradual and effective changes


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Robert Abela is against delivering shocks to the system and come January he will not immediately carry out a reshuffle if chosen to become prime minister.

The Labour leadership hopeful said the country needed stability, which is why continuity was important.

“We cannot turn the world upside down… we have to introduce effective measures that restore the distinction between business and politicians without declaring a war on business,” he said, when asked about his comment that the government must continue working with businesses.
Abela was interviewed by MaltaToday on his vision and plans for the country, if PL members choose him to become Malta’s next prime minister.

He is running for the post against Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne.

But despite acknowledging that the country is passing through a difficult period as a result of developments in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case, Abela insisted the problems must not be blown out of proportion.

“People are shocked; I am also shocked and there are aspects of the investigation I would have expected to be given more attention but the institutions are working,” Abela said.

He added that part of the condemnation that Malta received at the hands of the European Parliament this week was based on perception.

“It is partly based on perception… the perception is created by certain comments made in Malta such as the Opposition leader’s call for the Attorney General’s resignation… the Opposition poured a lot of fuel on the fire,” he said.

Abela said change must be done diligently and shunned the suggestion that his attitude gave the impression that he had no sense of urgency to address the crisis.

Abela said he would give particular attention to the home affairs ministry because he could not be “trustful enough”.

“I want to ensure that justice in this case [Caruana Galizia murder] is done blindly with anyone involved… I want justice to be done not witch hunts,” Abela said.

He said that part of the reform process in the police force will require a change in the headship of the corps.

Abela has reservations about the proposal made by Fearne for the police chief to be appointed by a two-thirds parliamentary majority but insists he will seek consensus with the Opposition.

“I will seek consensus on the appointment of a police commissioner and chief justice. It does not mean I will find it but I will try… we should be able to agree on someone who is credible and enjoys widespread trust,” Abela said, adding that the police commissioner will have to submit to scrutiny of the parliamentary committee that probes certain public appoints.

Asked about the direct orders his legal firm received from the government, and whether this shackled his commitment to good governance, Abela said his firm was one of many others that benefitted from government work and these included companies close to the Nationalist Party.

“We delivered on our brief and paid all our taxes on the money earned… government work was apportioned among different companies,” he said.

When confronted by his statement that Labourites had been side-lined and 

whether this meant that he will be leading a government for Labourites, Abela said that equity must be restored. “I will be the prime minister of Labourites and of all Maltese… there is a reality of people who always voted Labour and were sidelined… we should not address this unbalance by creating new injustices but it has to be addressed through equity,” Abela said.

Abela added he was not uncomfortable with having Joseph Muscat on the backbench and would consult him regularly. “I will consult him but I will be taking the decisions.”

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