PM announces cohabitation law to be released for public consultation

Muscat cautions against 'unrealistic visions' from European socialists who are stuck on theory: 'Our strategy is to first create wealth, and then redistribute it'

Joseph Muscat has announced that a Bill on cohabitation rights will be released for public consultation
Joseph Muscat has announced that a Bill on cohabitation rights will be released for public consultation

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has announced that civil liberties minister Helena Dalli will release for public consultation a draft law to regulate cohabiting couples.

"This law was proposed by successive governments for 15 years, but was consistently shelved," he told an annual meeting of Labour's female section Nisa Laburisti, arguing that women and children suffered most severely as a result of this lack of regulation.

The law had been long promised by former Nationalist administrations, first making an appearance in a 1998 manifesto that however was never finally enacted.

As justice minister, Chris Said in 2012 had said that a cohabitation law had been finalised and would be approved by 2013. Since then, Labour has successfully passed bills legalising civil unions for same-sex couples; as well as regulating adoption for parents in same-sex unions.

In his address, Muscat staunchly defended his government's pro-business economic model, arguing it was a better alternative to "non-realistic visions" adopted by other European and international social democratic parties.

"As a social democratic party, it is our duty to create wealth and to redistribute it to the most needy," Muscat said. "Many other social democratic parties around the world only talk about  sharing wealth, but not about creating it. They simply engage in theoretical discussions about non-realistic dreams. On the other hand, the Maltese government's strategy is to first create wealth, and then redistribute it."

During his speech Muscat toasted his government's record in encouraging women to find a job through schemes such as free childcare, in-work benefits and the national maternity leave fund that all employers on the island are obliged to pool into. "The best way to help women is to increase their financial independence," he said.

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