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[LIVE BLOG] Labour unveils electoral manifesto Welcome to MaltaToday's live blog of the Labour Party's extraordinary general council at the Bay Arena. REFRESH here to update the stream. 22.25 Thank you for following us... and good night. 22.24 The PL's extraordinary general council ends here... the electoral manifesto has been approved. 22.20 Ending his speech, Muscat said it's time to do away with the politics of past: "Let us look at who we are: Maltese and Gozitans who want to live in Malta which is for all." 22.16 Muscat has just referred to a comment made by PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil this evening during the Broadcasting Authority debate in which he said Deborah Schembri was being used by the PL "because she looks like a Nationalist". "How does a Nationalist look? How does a Labourite look? Because when I look at my mother I see my mother and not a Nationalist... when I look at my father I don't see a Labour's face but my father." 22.14 Muscat said it could come "as a shock" to believe that a new government would carried out all proposals within budget and in time. "But this is what taxpayers merit." Muscat says that the campaign was kicked off by "those who tried to ridicule our plans". He is now giving a rundown of the main proposals of the party, which can be found here. 22.04 Muscat reveals that Louis Grech will be given the responsibility to see that the electoral manifesto is carried out throughout the five years. "I am convinced that with his experience in management, Louis is the best person to see that the proposals are carried out; to coordinate the work of the different ministries in different national projects and to see that everything is done within budget and on time." 22.00 Muscat says it was with responsibility that the PL opted for these 20 priorities. "This is the responsibility of someone who presents himself seriously to lead our country. We know that families will not be impressed by those who promise everything, especially after years under a government which promised a lot but did otherwise." 21.54 Muscat reiterated that the proposals were not "set out in a closed room" but the movement was open to feedback. "This is a manifesto of the people, from the people to the people. These are realistic proposals... an action plan of what needs to be done in the next five years," he says. "Our roadmap is costed because we know how much these proposals would cost us. On the first day [of the electoral campaign] we said the when, what and how of our energy plan." "It is a realistic roadmap because we are proposing only what we are certain can be carried out. Others are used to promising a lot and doing the complete opposite... 21.50 Labour leader Joseph Muscat's turn to address the council. "What we have before us today is the result of a three years of hard work. We stand here before you today with a roadmap for economic growth." Muscat went on to thank not only the volunteers but also Aaron Farrugia and James Piscopo, chief executive. "James was crucial to modernise our internal administrative structures." He also thanked Labour MP Karmenu Vella. Photo: Ray Attard/MediaToday 21.32 Stitching director Adrian Buckle, lawyer Ramona Frendo and Albert Gauci Cunningham, actress Audrey Harrison and orthopaedic surgeon Charles Grixti make a short intervention. 21.24 Cyrus Engerer: "I could have come here to talk about the 100 reasons why you should not vote GonziPN. Instead I'm going to talk about why you should vote for Labour." "Like you, I believe that the state should intrude in personal lives; that the environment should be protected not because it is imposed on us by the EU but because we truly believe it's the right thing; I also believe that our country should be at the top of the EU; we should become the example for others to follow." Engerer encourages the electorate to become part of the PL. "I am living proof that a person's past is irrelevant for this movement. Come join us and work with us." 21.20 Another student, Keith Mintoff, takes the floor. And another one, Lara Boffa - who's finding it very hard to speak in Maltese - talks about honesty and loyalty. 21.19 Grech says that if trusted, a Labour government would start the road to bring about a government that would truly be of service to the citizens. 21.15 "I believe that progress is the result of the work of those people who believe that the impossible is possible. But to achieve this we need a correct and transparent leadership. For example, our priorities would have been the completion of an oncology hospital and not the building of a new parliament. "If trusted we will really bring about change that makes a difference. An honest relationship between the citizen and the politician. We believe that the absolute majority of the Maltese want a change in how politics are carried out. That citizens come before arrogance; where the right of a decent life is not of the few but of everyone. That is why we need a government who is at the citizens' service. But to do all this we need to convince the citizens to put their faith in us." 21.10 Recently elected deputy leader Louis Grech says credibility plays an important part in politics but the PN has lost it. "Whatever they say about the fourth floor boys, the PN has lost its credibility." Grech says that if elected in government, PL was committed to carry out changes to improve the quality of life. "Changes to strengthen the values of accountability and transparency; create an environment which stimulates the economy; remove barriers between workers and employers; fight against discrimination." He says a diversified economy was needed, such as maritime and manufacture, for added value jobs. "A dynamic economic activity to facilitate the creation of work but also safeguarding the environment and consumers. We will give everyone the opportunity to be part of this voyage... a Malta which truly belongs to all." 21.00 21.08 Bencini also hit out at the Nationalist Government's insensibility towards workers suffering under the burdens of exorbitant utility bills, saying that when Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said that he was "proud" to have voted in favour of more expensive energy bills, "he was voting against the Maltese worker." 21.06 Bencini said that in response, the Nationalist Party submitted his letter to the Police Commissioner for investigation, with regards to the statements Bencini made therein. Bencini said that Bencini was only notified when he received a letter informing him of the PN's correspondence with the Police Commissioner. In the letter, Bencini said that the Police Commissioner informed him that he would be sending him for questioning regarding he case. "Three years later, I am still waiting for the Police Commissioner to send for me." Bencini joked that "it seems that the Police Commissioner has his hands full with investigating Enemalta oil procurement," adding that nevertheless "I was shocked when I saw the letter, at the manner in which a person can be treated." He said that instead of offering to meet with him, as a disgruntled party member, to discuss the issues that were forcing him to rethink his membership in the party, the PN felt it preferable to involve the Police Commissioner. 21.05 Bencini recounted how when he sent back his PN membership card to the party three years ago, along with a letter insisting that he could not be a member of a party afflicted with so many scandals, it was sent back. 21.04 An enthusiastic welcome for former president of the Malta Union of Teachers, and more recently former FORUM president, John Benicini as he takes the stage, thanking the 'movement' for affording him three minutes. 20.59 Another short intervention being made, this time by entrepreneur Marlene Seychell. 20.55 Closing his speech, Abela shifts his attention to Gozo. "The Labour Party is determined not treat you as a colony. Because so far, you have been treated as a PN colony." Abela concluded his speech by adding that "it's not how many words the programme contains that count but the will not to leave anyone out," he says adding that the programme was called "Joseph Muscat". 20.51 Abela turns his attention towards the students to once again reassure them that a Labour government wouldn't be removing stipends. "As a father, I know how much students need these stipends. I myself know what is the impact of a student living without a stipend." 20.46 Referring to the PL pledge to fight corruption, Abela said a Labour government would not be promising there'd be no corrpution but a promise to fight it. "We also pledge to fight precarious work and we will not award tenders to those companies who employ workers on precarious conditions." Abela said a Labour government would however not tolerate people getting a "€4 commission" from government contracts, referring to the BWSC debacle. 20.45 Abela insists that Labour's manifesto is proof of Labour's commitment to social solidarity, which no society can do with out. "This manifesto is telling people that the Labour Party is with you." "Today sadly, this sense of social solidarity has vanished into nothing" "You, who are receiving utlilty bills we are determined that you no longer have to suffer this financial burden alone. But we will also be with those who stained their hands with oil." Abela pledged that a Labour government, if are elected to government, "will be with those who are suffering, in the same way that we will be behind those who brought about this suffering." 20.43 Abela says that Labour would also wage a war against dishonesty and corruption, citing the M'xlokk power station. "Come with me to the South, and you will see us wage a war against the poverty that is starting to rear its head and becoming a reality that is sadly starting to become accepted. Our battles will not spill blood, but they will give birth to hope achieve achieve results that will lead us to a better Malta." 20.42 Abela said that Labour will also wage a war in favour of thos elderly who should live a quality life, and against those conditions that undermine the dignity of the elderly. 20.40 "Come to MEPA and the courts," Abela said. "There, we will wage a battle against the bureaucracy that is stifling many who want to invest and grow their businesses but cannot." 20.38 Abela pledges that Labour will wage wars, and explains which will be Labour's chosen battlegrounds. "Come with me to Paul Boffa Hospital, where there are many afflicted with cancer. And you will know that we will want to wage a battle against cancer. We will fight against disease, and in favour of those who want to live a better life." 20.36 Labour deputy leader Toni Abela's turn: "I hate the word electoral manifesto, because manifestos are tied to unkept promises. I consider this programme as 'consider it done'." (Photo: Ray Attard/MediaToday) 20.34 Young medical doctor Ian Chricop takes the stage. Chircop is the son of late Labour MP Karl Chircop. 20.31 University student Mark Micallef takes the floor, "proud to be voting for the first time and voting for PL." 20.14 Vella says fiscal targets should be followed, insisting that EU guidelines should be adhered to and not ignored. He adds that competitiveness is the key for economic growth that would create quality jobs and attracting new industries. "How could this country attract investment when this government was scaring it away with instability?" Vella says that another change in direction would be the removal of cliques which government works for. With this trademark sense of humour, Vella urged government "to wake up" and truly work for citizens to receive free medicine. Another joke on the 'fourth floor boys': "I've been on the fourth floor and I never saw any contractors," he says as he went on to thank the volunteers. 20.07 Raucous applause for Karmenu Vella. He says that the PL started walking for this election three years ago. "The PN really didn't know what it was talking about when it said we had no plans. Because we met with everyone who wanted to say something: from NGOs to constituted bodies." He says the manifesto is the roadmap which a Labour government wanted to follow to create a just society for families and businesses to enjoy. "Cliques don't exist for us," he says. 20.06 Actor and film director Frederick Testa takes the stage for a few seconds to thank Joseph Muscat for creating the movement and to say he will be voting Labour. 20.02 She says that PL proposals encouraging more women to join the workforce and the support of the female quota sitting on boards of publicly listed companies were not proposals of political convenience. "On the other hand the PN made a U-turn on this one," she says. Abela also thanked the "volunteers of the fourth floor" who have dedicated their time to help the party. 19.57 Abela questions the government's decision opting for a power station running on heavy fuel oil. She turns her attention to the health sector, taking a jibe at Health Minister Joe Cassar's declaration that a proposal for osteoporosis screening had been 'leaked' to the PL. "So this time it wasn't an oil leakage..., " she says. 19.52 Executive secretary Lydia Abela says that the party designed the electoral programme together with the people, with the aim of giving Malta back to its people. "They thought that we had no proposals and no electoral manifesto even though, one day after the day, we came out with different proposals," she says. "We embarked on a genuine and positive campaign focusing on the content with a vision of a united country offering a better quality of life." 19.45 Zrinzo Azzopardi says it the biggest and most needed step to change the Labour Party into an open movement, welcoming back those who felt they no longer felt part of the PL and inviting new members. "We built this electoral programme together and we will continue listening to everyone because this is what makes us a movement," he says, adding that the main message was 'Malta for all'. Zrinzo Azzopardi says the PL can show that a new chapter in history can be written. "It's now time to go before the electorate and ask for its trust." 19.43 Party president Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi takes the floor. 19.38 That's a different way of starting a general council: delegates are being entertained to a feature of some of Muscat's best soundbites during political rallies: "We have changed to bring about change... join us and write this history with us... I am proud to form part of this movement." The feature served its purpose as the Bay arena exploded in one shout of "Joseph! Joseph!" 19.35 Joseph Muscat has arrived and gets a standing ovation. 19.31 Ready to go: party deputy leaders Toni Abela and Louis Grech together with executive secretary Lydia Abela and president Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi takes their seats. We now await the arrival of leader Joseph Muscat. 19.30 Just in case you were wondering... we are still here waiting for the delegates - and members of the general public - to take their seats. I guess it's not easy to seat some 1,000 persons. 19.03 The press, on the other hand, have been comfortably placed in a room overlooking the arena... sandwiches and drinks all included. And lest we forget, two large party banners have been placed on either side of the room, 'Malta for all - press room'. 18.58 Good evening everyone and welcome to our live-blog. We are expecting a good show this evening: the Bay arena is barely recognisable with the Malta for all logo pasted on the walls and a big Maltese flag on the side. Two big screens have been set up. Delegates entering the arena have also been given a copy of the PL's electoral manifesto, to be approved this evening.