For release: October 8, 2010

Premier urged to keep election commitment to examine Swedish prostitution laws

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today urged Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett to honour his pre-election commitment to examine the Swedish approach to prostitution reform.

At ACL’s pre-election ‘Make It Count Tasmania’ event in Hobart on February 15, Mr Bartlett told the forum a re-elected Labor Government, ‘would commit to look very carefully at legislation like the Swedish model’.

ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said it was pleasing the Tasmanian Government was committed to a thorough review of the state’s legislative response to prostitution, and urged it to seize the opportunity to look beyond the failed approach of regulated prostitution in the mainland States.

Mr Brown said the Children’s Commissioner’s recommendation this week for Swedish-style criminalisation of the purchase of sex in the wake of the prostituting of a 12-year-old girl to 100 men should form part of the up-coming review of the Sex Industry Offenses Act 2005.

“The Swedish approach would have meant these men could not have claimed ignorance for abusing this girl,” Mr Brown said.

The failure of regulated brothels in mainland States was well documented.

“For example, after ten years of licensed brothels in Queensland under the Prostitution Act 1999, ‘90% of prostitution remains unregulated’ according to a report from the  Human Trafficking Working Group of the University of Queensland.

“The legal sex trade also contributes to demand for human trafficking. The same report says that, ‘trafficking of persons, especially women, remains a problem that is equally associated with legal and illegal brothels around Australia’.

“The death of a 17-year-old girl from a drug overdose in a legal Canberra brothel in 2008, and the more recent report of a 16-year-old allegedly sent to work in a Sydney brothel by her mother, demonstrates that by the most important measure – the ability to protect minors from exploitation – the legalisation and regulation of prostitution in Australia has been a failure.

“As a Government that prides itself on pursuing a progressive policy agenda, we would urge the Bartlett Labor Government to seriously consider how a law that criminalises the purchase of sex would advance the best interests of women and girls,” Mr Brown said.

Media Contact: Mark Brown 0408 850 629