Solicitor for the Minister of Hunting sits on the Ornis Committee – CEO of BirdLife
The Solicitor for the Minister for Hunting and Gozo, Clint Camilleri, sits on the Government Hunting Advisory Board as an “independent” member, the CEO of BirdLife Malta revealed on Saturday.
Speaking on Andrew Azzopardi’s talk show on 103 Malta’s Heart, Sultana said the Ornis committee includes three independent members “who are clearly not independent, they are canvassers”.
Without naming names, Sultana said one of those members was often photographed with Clint Camilleri during the recent election campaign.
“He has every right to do that,” Sultana said, “but he can’t expect to sit on the committee and vote as an independent member. I won’t fall for that. You wear the hat you choose to wear, but you can’t sit on the committee and pretend you’re independent.
According to the Gozo ministry website, the three independent members of the Ornis committee are Horace Micallef, Gaynor Saliba and Victor Dimech.
When asked why BirdLife sits on the committee which he accuses of being used to approve government decisions, Sultana said “it is the only forum we can participate in”, adding that it is the only information source.
He added that the only time he left a committee meeting was days before the March 26 election, in which the Ornis committee approved spring dove hunting.
Following the meeting, BirdLife branded the Ornis Committee a tool of Prime Minister Robert Abela after the government issued a legal opinion granting amnesty to those who own or received stuffed birds before it was discussed by the so-called advisory committee.
While acknowledging that the Ornis committee is a sham, Sultana said “we still have a role to play in the committee despite all the obstacles.” This, he added, would not change the ruling party.
Accusing the fighter lobby (FKNK) of being in cahoots with the ruling Labor Party and the nationalist opposition, Sultana said Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia moved closer to the FKNK when he was Minister of Transport. ‘Environment before the March elections, which cost him votes in the first electoral district.
Hunting lobby boss ‘forcibly pushed’ senior government official
The Ornis committee made headlines this week after FKNK CEO Lino Farrugia assaulted the head of the wild bird regulatory unit, Richard Lia, during an argument during a meeting on the legal amendments to hunting and trapping laws.
The hunting lobby boss has since suspended himself from the Ornis committee, but FKNK public relations manager Gerald Vella said Farrugia’s behavior was “unacceptable”.
However, while downplaying the incident, Vella said the disciplinary action against Farrugia should be proportionate to his behavior.
“We are not happy with what happened,” Vella said, “but we have to be careful not to take disproportionate action.”
Hunters boss suspended from ORNIS following ‘little row’
He added that while the incident was not as serious as reported in the media, FKNK will ensure that such behavior does not happen again in the future.
Vella’s claims were however contradicted by Sultana who countered that the incident could have had disastrous consequences had it not been for the momentary intervention of those present.
“If Lino Farrugia went to the next meeting, I wouldn’t feel safe,” Sultana said as she went on to describe what happened at this week’s meeting.
Explaining that the argument was about whether hunters were legally required to notify authorities every time they went hunting.
Sultana said that when Lia confirmed the existence of the legal obligation, “Farrugia lost it. He started shouting, hitting, and when Lia asked him to lower his voice, Farrugia got up and pushed him with force. And if it hadn’t been for the people who intervened and removed some objects, it could have gotten ugly.
Farrugia was then forcibly removed from the building, Sultana said, adding that the FKNK official hurled insults at Lia.
Farrugia and Vella agreed that such behavior is unacceptable and that disciplinary action should be taken.
At this point, Vella hinted that FKNK may take stronger action against Farrugia, saying “it could go beyond suspension”.
Although BirdLife Malta and FKNK rarely agree, Vella urged the two rival organizations to work together on issues they agree on after Sultana asked if the hunting lobby would take a stand against the loss of land ODZ in Wied Żnuber in Birżebbuġa.
You can watch the full debate below:
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