Let’s have a serious debate

Labour’s soul-searching, “100 Ideas” exercise published on Monday was an important step, especially coming from the party in government. But it should not stop at that. While having an inward look at one’s self and holding internal discussions are important, it is now time to act. 

For far too long, the Maltese political class has preferred not to ruffle any feathers, and frequently held back from doing the right thing because of electoral considerations. Yet, political parties, especially those on the left, are there to move a nation forward bring about change and seek the greater good.

It is this notion that we hope will lead the Labour Party in the coming months and years. Some issues must transcend partisan politics – doing the right thing is imperative, and changing mentalities is the solution for success.

National discussion on homework

The document calls for a national discussion on homework reform and children’s leisure. Tied with this, is Labour’s affirmation to provide “a curriculum that promotes creativity, civic involvement, balance and responsibility in the use of technology, sport and mental wellbeing from an early age.”

It is time to discuss school hours and the amount of homework per week. While it is true that Malta has its own specificities, we can learn from other countries who have adopted a “less homework” approach, resulting in less stress and more focus for pupils. Efforts should be shifted towards encouraging children to be more critical and opinionated in their approach, reasoning arguments through rather than simply rehashing and quoting authors they would have learnt by heart. Moreover, breaking from a fortress mentality of a small island nation and looking outwards towards the rest of the world is imperative. What happens outside of Malta affects us and as a nation we must give foreign and European affairs more importance.

Electoral reform

Labour is pledging a national discussion on the current electoral process. This too requires a serious debate and above all, bold action to make our legislative structure more representative of the population. The recent introduction of the corrective mechanism for more gender equality was a step in the right direction, however, much more needs to be done.

Is it not time to ask why we have the largest Parliament per capita in the European Union? Is it not time to act on full-time Members of Parliament? Why not discuss a fairer and more modern system which gives the possibility for smaller parties to be represented? Should Malta still be split into 13 districts? Should the ‘party list’ system be explored?

If we retain the current Single Transferrable Vote system, why not introduce the Robson Rotation system in order to prevent the ridiculous trend of politicians changing surnames to ensure they are first on the ballot sheet? And finally, how can we make our electoral system less competitive between candidates of the same party and instead a offer choice between different ideologies?

Prioritising people over traffic

On the environment, the introduction of the green cities concept is welcomed, as is the phrase “children and families are given priority over traffic”. This should become a priority in the coming months and years, together with the electrification of our vehicles, as the country aims to reach its climate targets.

Our urban cores must become greener. Enjoying some form of nature, should not be more than a walking distance away – we should all have access to nature for our wellbeing, even if it at least is in the form of green parks in our towns and cities. 

The Labour Party’s responsibility to continue changing Malta is even bigger today. Resting on its laurels because of the large majority it holds should not be an option, rather it should be its courage and motivation to challenge things that have been taken for granted.

We look forward to a serious debate and eventual implementation.

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