Updated - Adds statement by Parliamentary Secretary Michael Farrugia

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had defended the government's decision to drop a case which the former administration had instituted against the Labour Party to recover Australia Hall from the party.

The historic Australia Hall, in Pembroke, had been transferred to the Labour Party in the 1970s as part-compensation when the then Labour government took possession of Freedom Press, the former Labour headquarters in Marsa. Freedom Press was incorporated into Malta Shipbuilding.

The Lands Department in 2010 started court proceedings to take Australia Hall back because the Labour Party had allowed it to become dilapidated. The property, now a burnt shell, is a Grade II scheduled building.

In comments today, Dr Muscat said he was convinced that the former administration had only instituted the case out of vindictiveness.

Dr Muscat said the party was now in a position to restore the property.

PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY EXPLAINS

Parliamentary Secretary Michael Farrugia, who is responsible for government properties, said that in terms of the 1970s agreement, the Labour Party had the right to dissolve the contract with the government if the government insisted on taking Australia Hall back.

The government surrendered its court case against the Labour Party over Australia Hall and the Labour Party had given up its counter-request to take back the property it used to hold in Marsa. The property included the former Freedom Press and other offices, a shop, a theatre and eight tomna of land.  

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