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When Joseph Muscat Met Adrian Delia: The 12 Most Interesting Quotes From A Lacklustre Debate

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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition leader Adrian Delia squared up for the first time ever last night ahead of the upcoming European Parliament and local council elections.

If people were expecting sparks to fly and ideas to bounce off the walls, they were left largely disappointed, with the party leaders mostly just repeating their mantras and rarely digging below the surface.

However, the debate did have its moments, and here’s a summary of them in Muscat’s and Delia’s own words.

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1. Adrian Delia: “Why I call Labour the Socialist Party”

“The Socialist Party is contesting the European Parliament elections as part of the family of the European Socialists, just as the PN is participating as part of the family of the European Popular Party. Maybe the Socialist Party doesn’t want this mark so that it can distance itself from the European Socialist Party’s electoral manifesto.”

This was a likely allusion to a line in the PES manifesto which strongly hints at a pro-choice stance to abortion, something the PL has strongly opposed

2. Adrian Delia: “How many more people can Malta take?”

“The government wants the economy to expand through population growth, even though we live in the smallest and most densely populated country in Europe. It has already said it needs 12,000 more people to move to Malta every year and this type of economic growth is clearly unsustainable. How many more people can Malta take?”

3. Joseph Muscat: “Adrian Delia tried to stop me pushing back migrants”

“When I became Prime Minister, I threatened to push back migrants [to Libya] because I wanted to send a strong signal to the EU. However, several lawyers, including the current Opposition leader, signed a letter to try and stop me. When the wind was blowing in a particular direction, he signed that letter against me, but he is now trying to scare people about foreigners. He either doesn’t believe what he’s saying or he’s inconsistent.”

4. Joseph Muscat: “I don’t want Maltese people picking up the trash”

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“If I had a choice, I would want the Maltese to be working in skilled jobs as managers, doctors and teachers and foreigners to work in the jobs that require long days in the sun and pick up rubbish from the streets. There’s dignity in every job, but I don’t want a situation whereby foreigners are comfortable and the Maltese are breaking their backs.”

5. Adrian Delia: “We couldn’t even cope if the Maltese-Australians had to move here”

“Ours is a purely economic argument. We are talking about how much Malta can cope? We couldn’t even cope if all the Maltese people who live in Australia had to come back here. Malta can only grow slowly and we need to tap into those sectors that create good jobs.”

6. Adrian Delia: “Teachers are quitting en masse”

“Teachers are quitting the profession at a higher rate than students are entering teaching courses at University. We don’t have enough people to teach our children.”

7. Joseph Muscat: “Investigations into Caruana Galizia murder mastermind proceeding rapidly”

“The issue isn’t about whether there should be a public inquiry or not, but when this inquiry should be held. The Attorney General has advised me that such an inquiry might endanger the ongoing criminal investigation to find the mastermind who ordered the murder, an investigation which is proceeding rapidly.”

8. Adrian Delia: “Muscat hasn’t sacked people who are smearing Malta’s reputation”

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“Despite several reports condemning the government for bad governance for adopting a practically dictatorial attitude and for taking control of the institutions, the Prime Minister has not sacked certain people around him who are tarnishing Malta’s reputation.”

“How can it be that we are the only country in the Western democratic world where a minister mentioned in the Panama Papers remains one of the most powerful ministers in the government?”

9. Joseph Muscat: “Delia’s migration logic is what led to Brexit mess”

“Adrian Delia is asking how many foreigners Malta can cope with and is claiming there should be a limit on migration. Another country had started reasoning along those lines and they have now ended up in the mess that is Brexit. God forbid we start trying to get people to believe that we can limit the number of Europeans who can move to Malta.”

10. Joseph Muscat: “I believe Delia that someone forged his signature”

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“You are contradicting yourself. You had said, and I believe you, that someone forged your signature but that you didn’t want to publish the document because it could prejudice the investigation. So publishing that document will prejudice the investigations but publishing the Egrant report won’t? ”

11. Adrian Delia: “First the environmental reports, then the tunnel”

“Before [we take a stance on the Gozo-Malta tunnel], all the necessary environmental, social and other impact reports must be conducted, published and followed up with an extensive public consultation process. Only then will we be able to assess whether the positives of the tunnel will outweigh the negatives or vice versa.”

12. Joseph Muscat: “The tunnel will happen… only question is how”

We have already decided that the tunnel project will take place and the reports will only help us build it. This isn’t a zero-sum game. Yes, there will be some problems in Manikata. Instead of the road that was originally planned there, we will build the entrance to the tunnel. The issue is whether we should dig underground or build pipes between Malta and Gozo.”

“If we dig, it will be more environmentally sustainable for the surrounding flora and fauna but will create more waste, a resource that we will have to use.”

What did you think of last night’s debate?

READ NEXT: Activist Who Cleans Malta For Free Gives Powerful Response After Prime Minister Says Only Foreigners Should Collect Garbage

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