Owen Bonnici inherits equality portfolio from Rosianne Cutajar

Prime Minister Robert Abela has allocated the portfolio that was previously under Rosianne Cutajar’s purview within the justice ministry to Research Minister Owen Bonnici

Owen Bonnici is now equality minister
Owen Bonnici is now equality minister

Owen Bonnici will be responsible for the government’s equality and reform agenda after the Prime Minister shifted the portfolio out of the justice ministry.

The new responsibilities will be added to Bonnici’s current portfolio that includes the post-COVID-19 reform strategy and research.

Equality was previously under the purview of former parliamentary secretary Rosianne Cutajar within the justice ministry of Edward Zammit Lewis.

The development comes hot on the heels of the Prime Minister’s announcement earlier today that Cutajar will not be reinstated as parliamentary secretary after Standards Commissioner George Hyzler found that she breached ethics over involvement in a property deal.

Cutajar resigned from parliamentary secretary last February, pending the outcome of the ethics inquiry. The report was finalised last week and published today after a decision by MPs on parliament’s standards committee.

READ ALSO: PM summons Rosianne Cutajar as Hyzler calls for tax investigation

The change in portfolio means that Zammit Lewis will now be responsible only for justice and good governance.

It also elevates equality, which has been a major government plank, back to ministerial level after having been relegated to parliamentary secretary level last year.

“Civil rights, equality and reforms in these sectors remain at the heart of this government’s work and will continue being prioritised to make Maltese society a live example of how everyone should be treated equally and given the same opportunities,” the statement from the Office of the Prime Minister read.

Bonnici is now entrusted to push forward reforms in several areas that appear to have stalled, including the decriminalisation of cannabis and prostitution.

In Labour’s first legislature, Bonnici had been responsible for removing censorship laws and introducing a softer approach towards drug possession in the first step towards decriminalisation.

In a Facebook post, Bonnici said this was an opportunity for him to work for "a better Malta".

Similarly, Zammit Lewis said the change in portfolio would allow him to focus more on justice and good governance.