The Nationalist Party yesterday announced its intention – as part of its 2011 general council proposals – to press for legislation concerning non-married, including homosexual, couples.

Arguing that the state “cannot be blind” to the value non-married couples place on their personal relationships, the plan goes on to note that the state “must legislate wherever necessary to establish the rights and responsibilities of such relationships for both heterosexuals and homosexuals”.

If approved, the proposal will mean that all three political parties are in favour of legislation concerning gay partnership rights.

The plan, which relates the PN’s 10 core concepts to modern-day society, also proposes reforming the Constitution to update Malta’s neutrality clause and granting Parliament greater budgetary autonomy.

Furthermore, it suggests introducing “positive measures” in the public and economic spheres as a means of driving forward gender equality.

Opening the General Council, PN General Secretary Paul Borg Olivier described the proposed policy document as “a renewed political vision” that revealed what the PN stood for while updating its policies to ensure it remained relevant to modern-day society.

He described the 10 core concepts first listed by the PN in its 1986 policy outline as the “10 fingerprints which the PN has always based its policies on” and said that the tangible policy vision borne out of these concepts was proof of translating words into facts.

“We want people to judge us not on what we say, but on what we do. Unlike others, we have a proven track record of action,” Dr Borg Olivier said.

He told gathered officials that the PN had always been driven by prudence and responsibility, without giving in to populist pressures.

“We are willing to take decisions that may not prove popular and lose us votes,” he said, “but we are a party that decides and acts in the nation’s best interest.”

The document called for Constitutional reform bolstering the financial autonomy of Parliament, the Ombudsman, Auditor General, Public Accounts Committee and Permanent Commission Against Corruption.

“Democracy is not static,” deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg noted. The Constitutional reform proposals would lead to better government scrutiny and control its power.

Dr Borg extended an olive branch to Nationalist MP Franco Debono, who some weeks ago proposed a Private Member’s Bill on justice issues and subsequently told The Sunday Times that internal discussion within the PN “needs to be broadened”.

“Franco has certain ideas, as do I and others. Let us discuss them together,” Dr Borg told party delegates.

The PN General Council document also calls for a transparent system of party financing, an issue Dr Debono had also raised in the past.

Stating that “liberty and respect for fundament rights have become part of our culture”, the document goes on to say that civil liberties must be strengthened when it comes to respect of individual privacy, freedom of expression and censorship.

It calls for greater investment in education with an emphasis on creativity, and identifies responsible water use and energy efficiency as two key environmental issues deserving increased attention.

Gozo’s diversity must be respected and strengthened, with an emphasis placed on its natural beauty and the need to create further jobs for Gozitan youths, the document states.

The document, which also touches upon a number of other issues, concludes with an appeal for Maltese youth to contribute to the PN’s further growth, with both opening and closing speeches reiterating the appeal.

“It was young people who drove the PN forward in the past, and we want them to continue to do so in the future,” Dr Borg Olivier said.

Dr Borg spoke along similar lines. “The beauty of the PN,” he said, “is that it is the oldest political party and yet the party with the youngest ideas.”

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