Life After Politics: George Pullicino

Manuel Zarb - 11th November 2017

In this series of interviews, former politicians share their experiences in politics and how they’ve readjusted to life as private citizens.

Looking back on his time in politics, George Pullicino says it was a challenging but mostly satisfying time. “When you’re a Minister, all your time and all your focus are directed at your portfolio, and I’ve had extensive ones," said the former Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs. "Moreover, you have to participate in discussions on other issues at Cabinet level and of course, Parliament. There are the sleepless nights of worry when you’re looking for the right course of action, but also the satisfaction of a job well done when a project is brought to completion to the benefit of the many. Not everyone is grateful, but you learn to live with that. It is the power of your conviction that drives you on most of the time.”

The experience of readjusting to being a private citizen, however, was certainly not easy. “In my case I had been a Junior Minister for five years plus a Minister for another 10 years – 15 years in all. I had abandoned my profession in the sense that I severed all connections with my architectural office. My engagement with the profession continued, insofar as I was au courant with new regulations/policies. Getting back on my feet, however, was extremely difficult. Initially I had no clients – I had to start from zero. At times it felt like you’re just out of University.”

“On a personal level, there are two sides of the coin. It takes some mental adjustment to go from an extremely hectic lifestyle to a calmer one, more focused on you personally. On the other hand, you do finally get the time to do some of the things you always wanted to, including spending more time with your family!”

Mr Pullicino continues by arguing that the current pay granted to Ministers and MPs is keeping people away from entering politics. “While salaries are rarely the motivation for politicians, a reasonable remuneration could well tip the balance for people who are deeply interested. It can contribute significantly in the case of those who feel that their families would also suffer financially should they take that path.” He does not, however, have a strong opinion on whether or not to change the time Parliament convenes. “When you form part of the executive, Parliament convening in the evening is reasonable in the sense that should Parliament meet in the morning, keeping up with the volume of work becomes tough.”

Mr Pullicino agrees that Members of Parliament should be full-timers, but not for the most common reasons shared by others. “Having full-time members does not diminish the possibility of conflict of interest or vested interests attempting to lobby for favour. It is integrity which does this. My leaning towards adopting a full-time Parliament stems from an appreciation of what it entails to become conversant with the issues being discussed, and the subsequent ability to contribute positively to the debate.”

This interview was originally published as part of a feature on the Commercial Courier

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Life After Politics: George Pullicino