Referendum question can make no guarantees – Austin Gatt

Minister Austin Gatt argued that since the divorce bill is yet to be debated in parliament, a referendum question based on that bill could not guarantee any of the ‘points’ it includes.

Speaking during the last session of the parliamentary debate on the Opposition's motion calling for a referendum on the introduction of divorce, Gatt criticised both the way the referendum question was structured, and the ‘guarantees’ is promises.

Referring to the ‘clause’ within the question detailing who would be eligible for divorce, he said that couples could opt for divorce without needing to formally separate, if they had been living apart for four years.

“Should it possible that if one is fed up and leaves without reason he or she should be able to obtain a divorce?” Gatt asked. “It should not even lead to separation, let alone to divorce.”

He argued that this no-fault approach to divorce allows the chance for such “capricious” individuals to leave and abandon their responsibilities and obtain a divorce. He also said that the divorce law as proposed by the referendum is rewarding this behaviour, instead of punishing it.

“I can understand those who say that divorce should come into separation cases. But how can we give the right to anyone to divorce simply because they are tired of marraige?”

He conceded that no-fault divorce shouldn’t be condemned in all situations however; as there are instances when it is beneficial, adding however that shouldn’t mean that “capricious” behaviour should be encouraged.

He said that this means that while the Las Vegas style marriage is not being proposed, it nevertheless means that “50%” of what the Las Vegas divorce means is nevertheless being proposed through the motion. “Because of this, the question is unacceptable.”

Gatt said that the question attempts to "fool" the electorate by promising guarantees that it cannot deliver, and promises to change the law on maintenance and child protection when in fact it actually changes nothing, and because it also promises the introduction of the no-fault concept.

Gatt also argued that the question is loaded when compared to a similar question asked during the EU referendum. “That question was chosen after years of closed negotiations and a concluded accession package. If we wanted to decorate the question with the rewards that accession would bring, we could have, but we didn’t.”

Here, when comparing the two questions, “the true difficulty is not that we are asking whether people are truly in favour of divorce, but we are adding on certain conditions that nobody can guarantee as that bill is yet to be debated,” he said.

“Currently, it is not yet guaranteed whether even the draft divorce bill itself will pass, let alone whether the conditions laid down in the referendum question can be guaranteed.”

“How, can we ask a question to the public that guarantees maintenance and protection of children when the bill has not even been debated yet? The way it is written seems to indicate that these will be guaranteed, when in fact there is nothing to that effect,” he said.

Gatt also spoke of the “tactical manoeuvres” undertaken by the pro-divorce camp in shifting position and tactics so as to ensure that the divorce law passes at all costs. He said that the moves resulted in a situation where a referendum question was being debated before the law upon which it is based was also discussed.

He also said that now, one is almost laughed at if he or she says that they want to follow their principles, or if they say that their conscience is not subject to a public vote.

I listend to you austin gatt for the first time- 1st The way you speak, your arrogance militia typo can be felt. 2nd Guarantee? what Guarantee? we can never ever be 100% of nothing in this life? well that is cause of your arrogant ,militia typo charachter. Do we have a guarantee in life? NO! Not even if we wake up tomorrow. These types like austin gatt needs to be kicked out from parlament, next general election- It's difficult for these types to be kicked out, since they use thier power in the ministry to give jobs and favours -and many will have their toungue out to lick. That is the truth, cause if there wil be no such lackeys , an arrogant person like this one, will not be in parlament, 11
That is something that can be guaranteed
chris caruana turner
I would really like to know what Austin Gatt can guarantee, cause every ministry that he headed, is somehow mixed in some news of corruption.