The Malta Independent 18 November 2017, Saturday

New Deputy Prime Minister Fearne pledges to ‘continue developing’ social structure

Joanna Demarco Monday, 17 July 2017, 14:08 Last update: about 5 months ago

Newly-appointed Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne plans to focus on “continuing to develop the country’s social structure, and looking at more logical working times” for parliamentarians, amongst others.

The Malta Independent contacted the Minister for Health following his victory in the PL Deputy Leadership race on Saturday. He won the runoff with Finance Minister Edward Scicluna after European Affairs and Equality Minister Helena Dalli was eliminated in the first round on Friday.

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This newspaper asked Fearne about his first job as Deputy Leader, his vision for the future of the Labour Party and how he will ensure that the government implements the promises made in its electoral manifesto.

“With my background in health and in the Labour Party, I am committed to continue developing our social structure, especially in eradicating poverty, improving social housing and providing free and excellent healthcare,” he said.

“As Leader of the House, I will lead the Government’s legislative agenda. I believe we can improve the way we conduct our parliamentary business. We need to look at improving resources for our parliamentarians, and look at more logical working times.”

Fearne also informed this newspaper of his plans to provide a more central and active role for party activists, saying its significant in order for the Labour Party to continue winning in general elections.

“During the last few weeks I managed to meet the majority of party delegates. I heard their praises and their concerns. Together with Chris Cardona, we will strengthen the party structures to allow party activists to be have a more central and active role within the party,” he said. “Party activists are our link with the electoral; they are essential for the Party to continue winning.”

Above all, he stated that as Deputy Prime Minister, his main job is to “support the Prime Minister as he deems necessary.”

“We have an ambitious and widespread manifesto which we have already started to implement,” he said. “Our first four years in government are a clear indication that we can and will deliver. I am very result-oriented and will make sure that we will continue to produce results in all spheres. I am confident we will remain close to the electorate and concern ourselves with the small matters with as much attention and energy as we do with the large,” he said.

Fearne won the position with 51 per cent of the votes (367 votes), whilst Finance Minister Edward Scicluna received 49 per cent (348 votes).  A candidate needed to receive at least 50 per cent plus one of the votes in order to win the election. The winner is replacing former Labour MP Louis Grech. Fearne will be officially appointed Deputy Prime Minister today. Last Friday, delegates also voted to confirm Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Deputy Leader for Party Affairs Chris Cardona, in accordance with the party’s statute.

Chris Fearne first contested the General Election in 2013 and was elected on the fourth district. He had also contested the third district, obtaining a combined 1,200 first count votes.

In the 2017 general election, Fearne was on both districts, with 5,405 votes on the fourth district and 4,693 on the third.

Fearne served as Parliamentary Secretary for Health, under Konrad Mizzi, between 2014 and 2016. He was appointed Minister for Health in 2016 when Mizzi lost his portfolio after the Panama Papers revelations.

 

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