Muscat does not see divorce being on PL election programme
Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat said today that he did not see the issue of divorce being included in the PL election manifesto, although the issue was still being debated within the party.
Replying to questions this evening on the TVM programme Dissett, Dr Muscat said he had made his position on divorce clear during the run-up to his election to the PL leadership. Once Labour was in government he would move a private member's bill for the introduction of divorce and give a free vote to the Labour MPs.
One would see what the PN and its leader at the time would do.
Asked why he did not move the private member's motion now. Dr Muscat said divorce had not been on the last PL manifesto and it had not been discussed.
It was positive that the subject was now being discussed rather than having the hypocritical situation where the subject was not even raised.
Dr Muscat said he did not expect the Church to agree with him on divorce but his duty was also to hear minorities. He did not intend to pick a fight with the church and he hoped the Church leadership would not launch any crusade but would make itself heard in a democratic manner.
Dr Muscat argued that there should be a distinction between the Church and the State in the area of marriage, although the two could work with each other. The state, he said, had abdicated its responsibilities with regard to marriage, even in the area of helping couples prepare for marriage from the legal and financial aspects. And one needed to ensure that children born outside wedlock were not disadvantaged.
The PL leader said that when one discussed state and church school reforms and church school funding, one should also ensure that private independent schools were not undermined.
Replying to further questions, Dr Muscat said he still felt that the Constitution should continue to feature the Catholic religion as the religion of Malta, while people who followed other religions enjoyed their freedoms.
On the constitutional provisions on neutrality, Dr Muscat said the concept remained valid but the wording could be updated to the current realities.
Dr Muscat in other parts of his interview said a future Labour government would drop the defence in court on claims for refunds of VAT charged on vehicle registration. This, he said, had been a case of government theft and a Labour government would settle this issue.
He said the Labour Party was drafting proposals for inclusion in its programme on accountability in the law courts, while respecting the independence of the judiciary. On the Depasquale impeachment case, Dr Muscat said he would probably have voted differently from most Labour MPs.
When asked about the current controversy involving Magistrate Consuelo Scerri-Herrera, Dr Muscat said the Magistrate had done well to ask the police to investigate and one should now let the investigation take its course. Asked how he would act if this case ended up in an impeachment motion, Dr Muscat repeatedly insisted that the investigation should take its course, pointing out that there could be different agenda in the issue.