Home > News > Ejjew niftakru naqra x’qal Austin Gatt dwar rizenji u mhux rizenji

Ejjew niftakru naqra x’qal Austin Gatt dwar rizenji u mhux rizenji

The only value is the family

 The Times 26th January 2011

Divorce is not a value. Separation is not a value. Both are means to an end and the ends are the family and a well ordered society. The values the Nationalist Party is actively discussing in its highest structures are the well-being of the Maltese family and Maltese society and whether or not divorce helps in achieving those values. This distinction is not nitpicking, it is not a nicety, it is absolutely crucial to come to a conclusion whether we in the PN should be pro or anti divorce.

There are proponents of divorce who pitch their argument on the basis of individual rights – it is my right to re-marry once, twice, three times, as many times as I wish. Basically egoistical, the argument puts the individual before society and before the family and usually results in a “quickie divorce” regime that, admittedly, is not being proposed by the pro-divorce lobby in Malta. That lobby is arguing that divorce is the means to achieve the value of the family because it is the only means whereby separated persons (and inevitably there will always be separations) can form another family. The anti-divorce lobby argues otherwise but at least there seems to be unity in the underlying value being promoted – the family.

The other intrinsic value that us Nationalists need to consider is Maltese society and we need to ask ourselves one simple question: Has Maltese society so broken down we need divorce to regulate the family relationship? Do only a minority of Maltese care about the traditional family concept and its consequences? Have marriage breakdowns surpassed marriages? Has marriage become so irrelevant the Maltese prefer cohabitation to marriage? Are children being born outside the traditional marriage because that concept has become irrelevant? These are the questions we need to answer before we decide whether we are pro or anti divorce and in the PN it is this discussion that is going on.

Two other points.

Firstly, we are talking about Malta and the way we want to structure our society. Others can do what they like; we do what we think best for us. We analyse according to our reality not according to what happens in some other country even though statistics amply show the disaster in the latter. We examine our statistics and those amply show we are not in such a mess as some would like us to be.

Secondly, the discussion in the party is not based on faith in some Catholic or Christian Democratic credo. We are and must remain a lay party although I, for one, am proud to be a politician inspired by the values and social teachings of the Catholic Church and it is ridiculous to ask me to be a Catholic and vote for divorce. Others may think otherwise and I have no problem with it because our party, on this issue, is big enough to encompass one and all.

That is why this is not a discussion about party dogma but a discussion about the values that we – as Nationalists – want to represent. This is not Armageddon and who tries to portray it that way does so for personal rather than party reasons. The party will be in good shape – no matter what decision is taken – as long as everyone agrees the democratic process requires a vote and that if you are a party boy you need to respect that vote.

I – labelled a conservative since I am anti-divorce (which goes to show the great democratic credentials of the pro-divorce lobby!) – will respect whatever decision the party takes. If that decision goes against what I conscientiously believe in, I would resign from Parliament since I would not be able in all conscience to back a pro-divorce party and I cannot ever expect my view prevails over the majority view.

Gatt insists MPs must follow their conscience, after referendum

The Times – 16th March 2011

Infrastructure Minister Austin Gatt insisted today that MPs should still be able to vote according to their conscience, even if the yes camp won the divorce referendum, because what the people were being asked about was a matter of conscience, not a political one.

Speaking in Parliament, Dr Gatt said that those in favour of the Bill had changed course half way through. First they had wanted the divorce issue to be debated in parliament, but when they realised that a majority would not back divorce, they opted for a referendum.

This was not a principle-based decision. Indeed, it was the PN which, from the earliest days, spoke in favour of holding a referendum.

This motion was worded such that it put pressure on those MPs who were against divorce. They were being told that if the people wanted divorce, they should vote against their conscience in parliament during the divorce debate.

Dr Gatt said that anyone who consciously took a decision in favour or against divorce deserved respect. But those who refused to hear their conscience solely to be mainstream and popular did not deserve respect.

The important thing was principles and values. He did not want to impose his principles, but MPs had to vote according to what they truly believed. He hoped MPs would not have to vote under pressure to be popular and mainstream.

He knew of some MPs who felt they were under such pressure if the ‘yes’ camp won the referendum.

Dr Gatt said the people should be heard, but in this case, the people were being asked to express themselves on a matter of conscience, not a matter of politics.

MPs had a duty to hear what the people said, but nothing should stop them from taking their own decision according to their conscience.

Dr Gatt said that even if the referendum was approved, there was no guarantee that the Divorce Bill would be approved in Parliament. Nor could anyone guarantee that the points made in the referendum question would become part of the subsequent legislation.

As had already been explained, no one could guarantee that maintenance would always be paid, as the proposed divorce question said.

What was especially bad in the proposed divorce referendum question was that it implied that something new was being introduced, when the ‘guarantee’ could not be given.

Dr Gatt spoke against the concept of no-fault divorce. The simple fact that a spouse walked out of a marriage for four years should not lead to divorce, enabling the person who caused the breakdown to get away scot free. And then, such people would even be allowed to remarry!

Such failings should not be rewarded with the possibility of remarriage.

To make matters worse, it was being made a condition that the form of divorce which had to be introduced in Malta was of the no-fault type. There might be people who were in favour of divorce, but not of the no-fault type.

This made the divorce question unacceptable. It was based on a lie, because it guaranteed matters which could not be guaranteed. It did not really change anything on care of the children, and it introduced the no fault concept, which was the worst possible.The question should be simple and direct, and should not promise anything which could not be given, Dr Gatt said. It should be a question based on principle.

  1. May 31, 2011 at 7:47 am

    I’ve gone through the corridoors and meanders of Dr Austin Gatt. Well, the greater number of lawyers, or popularly called advocates, know no better. He has been elected thanks to his election supporters, and MPs, following the outcome of the divorce referendum, should exert their duties according to the will of the majority – conscience does not come in anymore. There have been many issues calling for a clean conscience like the hefty increases Dr Gatt enjoys whilst for the man in the street, there aren’t enough coffers. Really shameful and disgusting. Dr Gatt indulges in a lot of meaningless eloquence like not contesting the forthcoming general election. Guess why. The writing is on the wall and dishing out some manna in a year’s time is not going to mesmerise the upcoming voters.

  1. June 6, 2011 at 3:53 pm

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