Dr Muscat answering questions from Times journalists in their Valletta newsroom yesterday. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier
Labour leader Joseph Muscat is not against gay couples adopting children because he believes the underlying principle is the child’s best interests.
What is crucial is the well-being of a child. If a social worker says it is in the child’s interest, then so be it
Dr Muscat said the most important thing was for a child to be in a loving and caring family, irrespective of the adoptive parents’ sexual orientation.
“This situation is much better than being in an institute or abandoned in any way,” he added.
His declaration comes hot on the heels of a pledge in the first week of the electoral campaign that a Labour government would introduce the right of civil union for same-sex couples while also enacting a law regulating the identification of transgender people.
At present, gay couples can adopt, albeit not as a couple but when one of the two declares to be single.
“We don’t need to change any laws (for adoption) because what there is at present is a policy. What is crucial to me is the well-being of the child. If a social worker says it is in the child’s interest, then so be it,” he said.
“What I’m saying is that the State will no longer discriminate because we will seek the child’s best interest which for me means a loving and caring family.”
He was speaking during an informal question and answer session with journalists of The Times, The Sunday Times and timesofmalta.com in the newly refurbished newsroom in Valletta.
Asked about how his party was financing what seemed like an elaborate and costly election campaign, Dr Muscat said the PL depended to a large extent on an ever-increasing number of volunteers. These, for example, constructed Labour’s billboards and were also putting them up for free.
He said the party had been “very careful” on its spending over the past four years and had cut costs drastically, especially with the new structure introduced when he became leader in 2008, which included the appointment of a chief executive officer.
On the party financing law, Dr Muscat said he expected this to be enacted by the end of the year and pledged it would apply retroactively for the Labour Party, to also cover this electoral campaign.
He said financing the campaign was “sustainable” and ruled out that the party received large donations in the region of €100,000. “Very far from that,” he replied.
Questioned about his new Cabinet, Dr Muscat said he had already planned its composition although he refused to divulge how many ministers and parliamentary secretaries would be in government.
He also confirmed that once parliamentary assistants had been included in the system in the last legislature “to buy out peace”, he too would be making use of this role.
“It is a big team when compared with the smallest team the country ever saw, like we had in the past few years, a system that failed completely,” he said.
When asked if it would cost the taxpayer more than the current Cabinet overall, Dr Muscat replied: “It will cost as much as the (former Prime Minister Eddie) Fenech Adami Cabinet.”
He explained that a large Cabinet was important, especially during the EU presidency in 2017 and the commitments the year before, since many Cabinet members would often be abroad. A system had to be in place to allow the Government to run smoothly.
On his party’s energy plans, Dr Muscat was adamant that his time frames were “realistic” and that the project was “doable”. He said that just like he was putting his political career on the line if the project was not delivered, he expected the leader of the Nationalist Party, who was insisting it could not be achieved, to also take political responsibility for this statement.
Asked about judicial reform, Dr Muscat said he had identified a person to chair a judicial review committee whose audit would be completed by the end of the year.
Regarding salaries for members of the judiciary, he believes that raising them would not solve the problems at the Law Courts, although he insisted that he was not ruling out this option.
He spoke about the possibility of the introduction of a special postgraduate course for lawyers who were interested a judicial post.
Dr Muscat was also asked about Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco, who is facing an impeachment motion in Parliament, and said that the Commission for the Administration of Justice, which is discussing whether the motion should proceed, should set a time frame by when to reach its decision and, in the meantime, the judge should abstain from hearing cases.
A Labour Government, he said, would press ahead with impeachment motion if this is what the commission recommended despite the fact that Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco’s son, David, is contesting the general election on the Labour ticket.