Parliamentary Secretary Michael Falzon should be removed from his post and not simply given another portfolio, Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil said today.
The Auditor General is expected to present a damning report this week on the Gaffarena scandal, which saw Mr Falzon signing off on a suspect expropriation deal that made property speculator Marco Gaffarena millions.
Dr Busuttil said the rumoured cabinet reshuffle is another ploy by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to divert attention from the scandal.
"The Prime Minister will try and twist things. He will carry out a reshuffle to try and divert attention. It is not acceptable that Michael Falzon is given another portfolio, he has shown that he is irresponsible, he must be removed," Dr Busuttil declared.
Addressing a PN general convention on the environment, Dr Busuttil pledged that the Party will update its environmental policies.
He said one of the key challenges in Malta is how to use the country's limited space, and allow everyone to live in harmony.
Malta's remaining countryside should be safeguarded he said, and farmers should be given a voice as the guardians of this countryside.
He emphasised the need for mutual respect, saying that people must realise they are part of a wider society rather than just being concerned with their own individual needs.
Building in Outside Development Zones should only be done when it is really in the national interest, he said.
He hit out at the Prime Minister, saying that he expected praise for scaling back the development on virgin land at Zonqor Point for the American University of Malta project.
"Public property is not Joseph Muscat's property. It belongs to everyone... The PN's Public Domain Bill will ensure that the government is the guardian of public property rather than just the owner...
"We have not heard the last word about Zonqor. The Prime Minister has managed to create a movement, a movement in favour of the environment and against him."
He called the government's plans to anchor a gas tanker in the Marsaxlokk port "another attack on the environment. He said the PN will be there to defend residents' interests.
He repeated his proposal to work with the government in order to find a solution to the illegal boathouses in Armier, though said the government does not appear willing to opt for a consensual approach on the matter.
Simone Vella Lenicker ‐ who presided over the convention ‐ said it is clear that people feel the environment is not a priority for politicians.
Environmental matters should not be turned into political footballs, she said, and politicians should put the environment at the centre of all their decisions rather than bowing to certain interests.
Ms Vella Lenicker emphasised that there is a need for synergy between the economy and the environment, rather than a "battle."
She questioned what measures are being taken to mitigate the impact of climate change on Malta, highlighting the need for a long‐term environmental plan.