Anti-Corruption: Mr Picardo is part of the problem
The person with the poor track record on constructive politics is Mr Picardo. The statements on waste abuse and corruption made by the GSD are not alarmist. This is the heart of the issue. Mr Picardo doesn’t even recognise there is a problem. He thinks there’s nothing wrong. That’s why he cannot solve it. Every time he opens his mouth on the issue he confirms he is part of the problem and that there will not be lasting change until there is a change of government
If he is serious about clamping down on waste, abuse and corruption he will recognise that his proposed Bill is a weak half-measure. If he does not then all he is doing is confirming that this is a deliberate decision so as not to tackle these issues in the robust and vigorous way they should be tackled.
The inadequacy of the proposed anti-corruption law or the fact that Mr Picardo has done nothing to fulfil his promise of 2011 is not answered by Mr Picardo repeating the fact that Mr Azopardi did not think an anti-corruption authority was necessary in 2011.
Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “I have already stated that in 2011 after 16 years of Peter Caruana’s administration I did not think an Anti-Corruption authority was necessary. To establish one then would have sent the wrong signals given that there was no need to do so. However now in 2022 after 11 years of Mr Picardo’s Government there is a crying need to do so, a public clamour for anti-corruption controls and everyone knows that. Everyone also sees the rampant cronyism, contracts for friends of the government and the massive conflicts of interest. They also see the financial abuses. That is his legacy. It is nothing to be proud of and he doesn’t defend himself by saying that after 16 years of Peter Caruana’s Government I was saying similar controls were not necessary. It is to Sir Peter’s credit and a damning indictment of his own tenure that the opposite is true. The comparison totally undermines him. If he was a legal client he would have been advised to remain silent by now.
We won’t be distracted by this nonsense. Our clear and unwavering focus is on winning the next election so that people can get the change they deserve not just on this issue but on other matters.”
It will be clear to everyone that Mr Picardo who said he would have a constructive style in Government only offers cooperation when his back is against the wall and when he does so it is to bury an issue in the long grass. During the Leader’s questions at John Mackintosh Hall he deflected an awkward environmental question by saying that if re- elected he would set up an environment select committee because matters of the environment were above party politics and the subject was too important. That committee has not met once since the 2019 election. He promised to set up a working committee on special needs when he was being criticized on deficiencies in the area by the GSD’s Mr Bossino18 months ago. That committee has not met once. He says he is in favour of parliamentary reform but that committee has not met at all in the last 5 years. The committee on constitutional reform has not met either. The GSD offered to help him with the Brexit talks. He has failed to involve the GSD in the negotiating delegation and here we are more than 6 years later with little to show for it except failure. Unlike him the GSD government led by Peter Caruana involved the opposition in the talks on our constitution. When Gibraltar needed elected leaders to stand together at the height of the COVID crisis Mr Azopardi and the GSD responded to the Government’s call and worked with them at the worst moments of the crisis. We believe in genuine co-operation in the public interest. His offer on anti-corruption is in his own political interest to bury the issue. We are not going to play his game.