Yesterday’s guest post by Vincent De Gaetano presented the all-important argument really. He was reacting to the death of Miriam Pace whose funeral is being celebrated today after she died when her house collapsed in a heap of rubble and rolled down a deep chasm at the construction site next door.

The words ‘tragic’ and ‘accident’ are inappropriate. They are used by people who do not want to assume responsibility for the causes of this. A prison suicide, a journalist killed by car bomb, multiple fatal traffic accidents in the same spot: these are more than just deaths. They are failures of the state in its obligation to safeguard life.

The thing is we cannot expect governments never to fail. But we do expect them to learn their lessons. And the lesson about unsafe excavations and demolitions should have been learnt after multiple incidents over the years.

Prime Minister Robert Abela does not have the smug disdain for public opinion that his predecessor had. Unlike Joseph Muscat, Robert Abela still has a healthy shred of insecurity that forces him to feel obligated to look like he’s doing something about state failures.

But looking like he wants to do something about it is too small a mercy.

Consider Robert Abela’s decision to order an “overhaul” of the regulations governing safety in substantial excavation works. If he’s asked for an “overhaul”, it is because he feels one is needed. After with what happened Monday it is hard to disagree with him. Yes, an overhaul is needed because when the previous government asked Robert Musumeci to write the rules they asked someone who has a very poor understanding of the role of the state.

That comes out in many of Robert Musumeci’s public utterances. His views on the function of the state are atavistic. He considers the role of the regulator as redundant, at best ceremonial. His clients are not the many unknowns whose safety the rest of us believe the state should protect. His clients are the ones with the money.

That fact came through unambiguously in the regulations which he authored in the aftermath of a quasi-fatal “tragic accident”. The consequence? A fatal “tragic accident”. Not that he minds. He continues to expect us to be grateful to him.

Robert Abela isn’t. He left Robert Musumeci out of the group of authors of the new regulations he set up and ordered an overhaul.

But Robert Abela said he disagreed with the notion of a moratorium on large excavations and demolitions. Until new rules are written – and this will take time – excavations and demolitions will continue after today’s spontaneous holiday from tomorrow governed by the regulations that allowed this “tragic accident” to happen.

No one will protect people living in fear of the enormous hole just outside their windows. Not for a long time anyway. All there is to keep their house in place is a set of rules that Robert Abela has condemned for demolition after acknowledging just how hazardous they are.

It is deeply ironic that the purely symbolic one-day break the developers’ union ordered its members to have today on excavations and demolitions while Mrs Pace’s funeral is held was the only initiative held to keep people safe for a while.

Just a day. A day of reprieve granted at the mercy of private operators. The state would not even go that far to protect human life.