It is quite incredible that the Opposition have still not learnt the basic lesson that at times it is better to maintain a prudent silence on a particular matter than risk that the issue backfire in their faces. This is exactly what has happened when they jumped on the bandwagon of the housing waiting lists.
In their overriding eagerness, falling over themselves, to be critical of the Government, the Opposition have been exposed on two fronts. First on their own abysmal record in Government and second on the discrimination that they presided over on housing allocation with regard to Gibraltar residents of Moroccan origin. In his new role as the Opposition’s spokesman for everything, Mr Keith Azopardi has once again chosen to be unfairly critical of the housing programme of the Government.
It must be obvious to everyone, except to him, that in a middle of a global pandemic and a lockdown it is obvious that Government housing projects will be delayed, as has happened all over the planet. However, the people of Gibraltar know full well that their Government will deliver on this housing commitment as we have done on so many already. The latest absurd points made by the Opposition simply shows how desperate they are. The fact is that the housing policy of the Government will lead to the construction of 2421 new residential units for purchase or rental by families or individuals in Gibraltar, of which over 1000 are already in place with residents enjoying their new homes.
A further 665 are under construction and 719 for purchase or rental are in the process of allocation. This alone is a record to be proud of. However, importantly and in addition to those 2421 homes, the Government has also allocated over 1600 homes for rental since it came into office to people on the housing waiting list. This will represent a record of over 4000 homes for 4000 families who have been the direct beneficiaries of the housing policy of the Government.
The Government reiterates that it fully understands that there are deserving cases waiting to be housed, many of whom are in private sector accommodation owned by private landlords. This is sadly not new, no matter how many new homes may be provided. Dealing with these cases in the meantime is a priority for the staff of the housing department and assistance will always be provided where possible in a way which does not involve jumping the queue. However, the Opposition are not helping this delicate process with their continuous destructive approach.
Instead of distracting those working hard to assist the needy with baseless criticism, the Opposition should hold back and allow them to get on with it. It is worth reminding Mr Azopardi that the only ones who dug themselves into a hole that they could not get out of were the GSD. That hole was called the Theatre Royal and it cost the taxpayer nearly ten million pounds! Additionally, the only Government in the history of Gibraltar not to have laid one brick of housing was the GSD government which included Mr Azopardi between 1996 and 2003 – so it is a bit rich for him to try to now blame everyone else, from the AACR to the GSLP/Liberals for the failings of the government of which he was a member. Mr Azopardi needs to level with the people of Gibraltar and recognize that his failure to develop housing in government is matched only by his persistent failure to succeed in politics other than under the wing of Sir Peter Caruana who he later betrayed by the formation of the PDP. That’s the reality.