New WA Premier Colin Barnett will tear up the prostitution Bill passed by the previous government and will re-examine the Swedish system for the control of prostitution and trafficking in women.
The Premier gave these undertakings in front of an audience of nearly 1000 people at the grand ballroom at Burswood on the Wednesday night before the election at a function organised by the Australian Christian Lobby.
The ACL event was attended by Mr Barnett and the then-Deputy Premier Eric Ripper who were given 20 minutes to address the crowd and were then invited to answer questions from a number of Christian Churches.
Representing Archbishop Barry Hickey, his communications officer Hugh Ryan asked the two men whether, in view of the success of the Swedish system and its spread to other countries in Europe, they would halt the implementation of the Government’s Bill and re-examine the whole question in the light of what was happening in Europe.
Mr Ripper replied that the Government would stick with its Bill which had been passed by Parliament, but not yet implemented.
Mr Barnett told the audience that one of the first things he would do would be to tear up the Bill which he found utterly unacceptable.
He said he had been involved in some discussions about the Swedish system when the current Bill was before Parliament, but had not been totally convinced by it.
However, he would re-examine it if returned to government.
Under the Swedish system, it is an offence to buy sexual services, but not an offence to supply them.
This reversal of the traditional system of prosecuting prostitutes but ignoring their clients was based on the realisation that every act of prostitution is an abuse of women.
Once properly implemented, the new law produced a sharp reduction in the level of prostitution in brothels and on the streets, and proved effective in protecting Sweden from the modern scourge of Europe, trafficking in women.
The Swedish law also provided for community education about the real meaning of prostitution and required the Government to fund programs to enable women to escape from prostitution and to recover their normal place in society. Because of its success, the Swedish model has been introduced in other countries, including Norway and Scotland, and is being considered elsewhere.