By Paul Gray
The sex trade in Western Australia will massively expand because of the legalisation of brothels by the state government last week, says the Australian Christian Lobby.
Meanwhile the Festival of Light has warned that two-person brothels –
that is, two prostitutes who keep the money they earn – will be able to
set up business next to any family residence anywhere in Western
Australia under the new legislation.
The Australian Christian Lobby said it was appalled that a law with
such serious repercussions as the legalisation of the sex trade was
able to pass in the upper house because one vote was traded off.
The Lobby’s West Australian chief of staff Michelle Pearse said
legalizing brothels has been a clear failure in other jurisdictions.
“Similar legislation in Victoria and NSW led to a huge increase in the
industry, and the number of illegal brothels tripled,” Ms Pearse said.
She predicted that hand-in-hand with an increase in prostitution will
come an increase in sex trafficking, with more women to be brought to
Perth from impoverished countries to provide sexual services for the
She asked whether it will now become legal for poor women to apply for
visas to come to Western Australia to work as a prostitute. If so, she
said this would be exploiting their poverty with the sanction of
government. “More and more women and children both in WA and from
overseas will become unwilling victims of an industry which will
effectively be normalized by this legislation,” Ms Pearse said.
Festival of Light Australia spokesman Lance Macormic said it was a sad
day for the women of Western Australia to see Labor, Greens and
Independent candidates supporting a law which favours brothel owners
The new law attempts to make those who set out to profiteer from
women’s bodies sound respectable by re-badging them as “sexual service
business managers,” Mr Macormic said.
The law passed the Legislative Council by 13 votes to 12 after
Independent Shelley Archer announced she would support the bill. Ms
Archer was not present in the chamber for the vote but was “paired”
with a Liberal.
The Festival of Light said that despite her absence during the vote, it
was still Ms Archer’s support which gave the government the numbers to
pass the bill.
Mr Macormic said that as a result, a culture which endorses the sale of sex will now become enshrined in Western Australia.
“Ordinary Western Australians will be concerned to learn that under the
new law up to two ‘sole operator sexual service businesses’ could set
up in the house or flat next door to their family residence.
“Such two person brothels are not subject to any restrictions on location,” he said.
The Australian Christian Lobby said a great deal of researched evidence
and expert testimony was put before the state’s parliamentarians to
show the real harm to women that would occur if they legalized the
trade. But Ms Pearse said politicians who had voted in favour of the
bill had failed to properly consider this evidence.
As an example, she quoted from New Zealand expert Dr Melissa Farley who
concluded that a 2003 New Zealand law sanctioning prostitution had led
to an increase in violence against women.
“State-sponsored prostitution endangers all women and children in that
acts of sexual predation are normalized,” the NZ expert wrote.
Mrs Pearse asked whether this was really what West Australians want for their state.
“Surely an issue of this gravity was at least worthy of proper scrutiny and investigation by an upper house committee.
She said this idea was originally supported by independent MP Shelly Archer before she made a trade-off with the government.
If an inquiry had been allowed, better policy alternatives such as “the
Swedish model” could have been properly considered, Mrs Pearse said.
Two-person brothels can park themselves next to residential houses
26 Mar 2008
By Paul Gray