The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today voiced concerns that genuine solutions to stop child prostitution in Tasmania would be ‘swept under the carpet’ following the Government’s decision not to re-appoint Paul Mason as Children’s Commissioner when his term expires this Friday.

ACL Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said that Mr Mason had made a number of worthwhile recommendations which put the welfare of vulnerable children above bureaucracy and vested interests in response to the appalling case of a 12-year-old girl being prostituted to more than 100 men.

“Among other things, Mr Mason has been one of the few people to rightly identify the need to consider criminalising the purchase of sex – as occurs in Sweden – in his report dealing with the state’s failure to protect the 12-year-old girl.

“Where does the Government’s decision to replace Mr Mason leave this and other recommendations? Does it clear the way for the Government to deliver a more muted response once public interest dies down?”

Mr Brown said that ACL was concerned by reports that Premier David Bartlett personally supported legalising brothels, which is at odds with Mr Mason’s recommendation and Mr Bartlett’s pre-election commitment to examine the Swedish approach to prostitution reform.

“It is pleasing that the Tasmanian Government has committed to a thorough review of the Sex Industry Offenses Act 2005, but we urge the Premier and his Government to look beyond the failed approach of regulated prostitution in several other States,” Mr Brown said.

“Experiences in other States clearly show that legalising brothels does not stop child prostitution – but just increases demand for women and girls.

“By contrast under the Swedish model of prostitution control - which treats prostitution as a form of abuse against women and prosecutes the purchaser of sex – men who purchased sex with a 12-year-old would not be able to walk free.”

Mr Brown said there has been a strong push from some quarters to legalise the sex industry but law-makers needed to consider the credible researched evidence about the real harm this causes on a far greater scale.

“One has to question whether the Government is falling in with a Greens’ agenda to legalise the sex industry despite the ramifications,” Mr Brown said. “Recent cases in Canberra and Sydney have highlighted that a legalised sex industry fails to protect minors from exploitation. This is not the answer and, as Mr Mason has recommended, we need to be considering more effective legislative change.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan on 0408 875 979