Introducing reforms to make the journalism industry more sustainable both financially and as a profession is the next step following the publication of a report by the public inquiry investigation Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday.
Speaking in a telephone interview on party media, Abela said that the next step following the report was to continue working on the institutional reforms that his government had introduced in the past 18 months, and to reform journalism as a whole.
The inquiry, whose findings were published on Thursday, concluded that the State must shoulder responsibility for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder and highlighted several shortcomings and regulatory failures.
“We need to discuss the future of journalism in the country”, Abela said.
He noted that some reforms, such as the long-awaited removal of criminal libel, have already been introduced, but that “now we are in the phase where we need to come up with the basis for sustainability of this profession.”
He said that the government had assisted the industry during the pandemic from a financial perspective, but that there is now the need to look beyond the financial aspect, but also towards the sustainability of the profession.
Asked about the Opposition’s reaction to the public inquiry report, Abela said that it will be the people who will judge the PN’s attitude and that he would not be sucked into playing the “partisan game.”
However, he said, he was saddened by the lack of recognition by the PN for those in the legal sector who had worked to reform the country’s laws and in the fight for justice, saying that they do not deserve the criticism that they are receiving from the opposition.
“If only they had one word of praise for them”, Abela said of the PN.
He said that the institutions knew that while this is a government which will respect its independence; it is a government which will continue investing in them to do their jobs.
Finally, Abela was asked about the government’s social spending – which exceeded €1 billion in the first six months of this year.
He said that the first six months of 2021 had seen 3% less people relying on social benefits to live, meaning that there are now around 4,200 reliant on such benefits – less than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
He said that this number had decreased by 12% – around 550 people – since 2019, adding that the people support this government because it creates opportunities and incentivises hard work.
“Even if we aren’t perfect; with us, they know where they are”, Abela said.