If elected Labour Party leader and Prime Minister, Chris Fearne will convene a conference that will debate governance and the rule of law, he said on Saturday morning, adding that the current situation calls for immediate action.
Addressing the media, Fearne said the conference will be held within the first 100 days of him being elected and will be spread over some time, “as long as is needed.” The conference will include the participation of the government, the Opposition, political parties, civil societies and the institutions.
Fearne currently serves as Deputy Prime Minister, and is one of the contenders for the new opening of the party leadership, alongside Labour MP Robert Abela. As part of his leadership campaign, Fearne unveiled the 10 priorities that he will put forward if he was elected to the helm of the Labour administration, and subsequently as Prime Minister.
Whilst noting that there will not be a new government or legislature, Fearne said that the electoral manifest will keep on guiding the government for the next two years. He also remarked that the context for his candidature is happening because of fo the events of the past few weeks.
Governance, rule of law reforms to be implemented in a short time
Governance, was at the top of Fearne’s 10 point proposal announcement, saying that he new prime minister needs to address the issue of governance and rule of law immediately.
The outcomes of the conference will result in reforms that will be implemented in “a short time,” Fearne said, adding that the conference will take place a few days after the election.
The conference will discuss reforms related to the appointment of the police commissioner, the attorney general, as well as the members of the judiciary, Fearne noted. He continued to add that he would push for a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives for the appointment of these positions.
Party financing, as well as MPs’ salaries and working conditions, will also be discussed, he said. This will form the basis of the constitutional reform and will include the participation of the President.
‘Meritocracy will guide us’
The second reform will be to continue to work on the success of the previous years, Fearne said. The economic model, which has proved to be successful will be built on. Fearne, however, added that more transparency and fairness is required, especially with regards to contracts.
“Meritocracy will guide us in all that we do,” Fearne remarked, adding that “we need to work with business not be guided by them.”
He also noted that he wanted to continue working to increase wages, pensions, better education, health, and improve infrastructure.
More green spaces
The environment is another one of Fearne’s priority proposals, saying that in the coming days he will be launching his “ambitious” plan on how more green spaces will be introduced.
He also said that our forefathers were better at town planning than us, introducing squares and gardens in the towns and villages, adding that we need to do the same with new developments. He said he will be working closely with local councils on this plan.
If Fearne is elected as Prime Minister, he said he will be keeping in lines with Labour values, emphasising on equal pay for equal work.
Establishing his fourth proposal as the “social conscience,” Fearne said he would promote this concept particularly between workers employed by private contractors and the government.
He also said he wants to eliminate property from our country, saying that in the coming days he will announce ways to improve pensions.
Immigration: compassionate but to show a strong hand
Speaking about his fifth proposals, relating to immigration and foreign workers, Fearne said we need to recognise the need for foreign workers but also the fact that the infrastructure needs to be improved to cope with the increase in populate.
He said this will be done by the government, as well as in partnership with the private sector.
About irregular migration, Fearne said that Malta cannot be left alone in this matter and whilst he said there is a need to be compassionate, Malta needs to show a strong hand.
Aggressive housing strategy
Over the coming years, Fearne vowed to solve the problem of housing in Malta. He said that this issue was abandoned by previous governments, whilst for him, it will be a priority.
Fearne said he will tackle the problem of housing in an aggressive and strutted manner.
Gozo tunnel will happen
Speaking about transport, Fearne said that the Gozo tunnel project will continue as it is clear that the project is beneficial for the people, as well as the economy.
The major projects related to roads will continue, Fearne noted but also mentioned the idea of a new mass transport project.
Malta’s reputation needs to be healed
Fearne said that he would engage with the Council of Europe, the European Commission, Moneyval, Greco, amongst other European bodies, who were critical of Malta over the past years.
He said after reforms are done, following the rule of law conference, Malta’s reputation needs to be given a blow.
Whilst admitting that the current situation has resulted in a blow to Malta’s reputation in Europe, he said he will be working with the institutions, as well as civil societies to put “Malta’s reputation on the pedestal it deserves.”
Whilst saying that money is important, Fearne notes that money alone is not enough to ensure a good quality of life. He said he intends to boost security in our roads, in all parts of Malta, as well as ensuring health is not only about the cure but also about prevention.
He said he intends to focus on life-long education as well as sports, ensuring a good balance between work and life.
“We want a country that you enjoying living in,” he said.
Labour Party reforms
The last priority on Fearne’s list was to include reforms in the Labour Party to make it stronger. He said he does not want the party to be a machine that partakes in elections but also to be involved in policies.
Having said this, he said that there needs to be a clear distinction between the party and the state.
Ending the press conference, Fearne concluded saying, “We should continue to build on all the good that we have done but we should not be scared to make decisions, even hard ones, where it is wrong, so what is wrong is removed and fixed… I am proud to be Maltese, I am proud to be a Labourite.”
Asked by this newsroom, if he agrees with the statement that his campaign is more focused on the general population, as opposed to Abela’s campaign which seems to targeting the Labour delegates who will be voting, Fearne replied that those voting will include all those who have paid up Labour Party members over the past five years.
He continued to say that these members do not only want a leader that is able to carry out the government’s manifest but also a leader who can win elections. This is necessary to be able to carry out the party’s visions and plans.
“To win elections you do not need votes only of the hardcore but of a wide range of the population.”
The Labour Party members will be voting for that person that can attract the most votes in order to obtain a strong majority in the next election, he explained.