On Sunday morning Labour leader Joseph Muscat discussed a variety of subjects with eight participants in a Google Hangout session which was streamed live online and on television.During the 90 minute session Muscat answered the participants’ questions, which included queries on the Labour party’s position regarding current issues, such as the financial sector, education, primary health care, Smart City, as well as the recent IVF bill.
Regarding the promise of education, training or work that Muscat has made to young people, a particular participant asked whether there were similar schemes which will be extended to middle-aged or older persons wishing to further their education in order to further their career or help their children in their school subjects. Muscat replied that the Labour party believed in the right to social mobility, and so will be making proposals to address that age bracket. He stressed the importance of encouraging 16 year olds to further their education. When this was not possible, one needed to analyse their skills in order to help them find a career in which they can succeed.
On the financial sector, which will have to face new challenges in 2014 as certain EU regulations come into force, Joseph Muscat said that at times EU regulations were excessive and that there was a general consensus that Malta would oppose the introduction of various taxes. Muscat conceded that although the current government failed in a number of sectors, it had done an overall good job in the financial sector. A Labour government’s policy on this sector would be on the same lines of the current administration’s policies.
One participant referred to the recent IVF bill, while recounting the experience of a relative who at the young age of 28 was diagnosed with cancer and needed treatment. Since he was planning to start a family and cancer treatment might affect his fertility, he had to travel to the UK in order to make use of a sperm bank, since these are not available in Malta. Muscat said that the government needed to provide support to families, but should not interfere in family matters. This was why Labour believed that such a service should be considered in Malta. At this stage the party was analysing the bill to see whether it was feasible and realistic. However, even at this early stage, the PL was aware that the bill does not reflect the consensus which had been reached in Parliament over the IVF issue.
On the issue of primary health care, Muscat said that a Labour government would invest more in health centres and make sure that these had all the necessary resources. “We need people to start believing in health centres once more. People need to know that they will be treated well when visiting a health centre”, said Muscat. This faith in health centres could be restored once more through education, and at the end of the day this will alleviate the problem of crowding at Mater Dei. A Labour government would be focused on such a reform in the primary health sector.
Asked what the Labour party had in mind for Smart City and the 7000 jobs which it was meant to generate, Muscat replied that the PL would not promise that which cannot be achieved. Muscat proceeded to say, however, that the PL believed in Smart City and its investors, and that the project was feasible. On a recent visit to Dubai, Muscat and other Labour MPs had met with the investors of Smart City and discussed the project. “We have started to build a relationship of reciprocal faith in the success of Smart City”, stated Muscat.