Robert Abela’s government is following the same pattern as his predecessor, awarding Party loyalists with new jobs, perks and allowances paid by taxpayers.
The latest examples are sourced directly from the heart of the Labour Party’s propaganda machine, One TV.
Its former Head of News, Owen Galea, was awarded a job at Castille while one of the station’s most vicious ‘reporters’ against the Opposition, Nicole Buttigieg, was appointed to the board of directors of the Malta Residency Visa Agency Board despite her lack of qualifications for the role.
Galea has been recruited as a ‘person of trust’ of Prime Minister Robert Abela, to work for Castille’s communications team under the guidance of Head of Government Communications Matthew Carbone, a former One TV ‘journalist’, and Deputy Head Nigel Vella, who was the Labour Party’s Head of Communications until the last election.
Galea has been serving the Labour Party in various roles in recent years. Until last March, he was Head of News of the Party’s TV station. He was given the post after six years at the Public Broadcasting Services, the national TV station, managing its online news portal.
For both his jobs at PBS and the OPM, Galea was recruited directly – there was no public call.
At the same time, ONE TV’s ‘reporter’ Nicole Buttigieg, who calls the Prime Minister’s wife, Lydia Abela, her ‘boss’ and ‘best friend’, was appointed to the board of directors of the Malta Residency Visa Agency Board, despite the blatant conflict of interest with her ‘journalistic’ job.
Buttigieg, who is regularly used by the Labour Party to attack critics of the government through partisan news reports, will see her annual income increase by some €10,000 a year.
Buttigieg joins other Labour ‘friends’ on the public agency’s board, including Diane Izzo, a close associate of the spouse of the former disgraced Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Her husband Karl, a water polo coach, was appointed Malta’s Ambassador for Montenegro by Muscat last year.
The Shift has shown how Boards related to citizenship and visa programmes were filled with Labour Party supporters who did not necessarily have the qualifications for the post.
Buttigieg, who constantly promotes the Labour Party and its leaders on social media, was already netting substantial funds by taxpayers during the Muscat-led government.
In 2018, then-Justice Minister Owen Bonnici had appointed the 23-year old on the government’s Board of Petitions, responsible for deciding who would be eligible for a pardon related to fines issued by local wardens. For this job, Buttigieg receives another €10,000 a year.