The Queensland Court of Appeal recently ruled that a Moranbah motel were able to preclude prostitution on their premises. As the proprietors explain in the media release below, they participated in two Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) prior to the judicial hearing over a three year period.

ACL had commented on the case last year when QCAT ruled the owners had breached the Anti-Discrimination Act stating "The issue raises the rights of businesses and motels across the state to decide what occurs on their premise." The ACL also said the issue highlighted the need for prostitution reform in the state. See this earlier media release by the ACL for more information.


Issued by Evan & Joan Hartley, proprietors of the Drovers’ Rest Motel, Moranbah, Qld

17th May 2013

Our court ruling won’t stop unwanted motel prostitution

The Queensland Court of Appeal has ruled we had the right to stop prostitution, after it nearly destroyed our Moranbah motel business.

We thank the Premier Mr Campbell Newman, his Government and particularly the Attorney-General Mr Jarrod Bleijie and his legal team for their support with our appeal. Also in the support team we thank the Accommodation Association of Australia, the Australian Family Association, the Australian Christian Lobby, other businesses, our staff, family and friends.

The court’s finding that no discrimination occurred has much the same effect as Queensland legislation passed late last year. It exempted accommodation providers from discrimination claims if they refuse, as we did, to let out a room for prostitution.

Urgent legislation needed

As our experience has shown, however, we need more than the current right to evict prostitutes who are ‘caught in the act’ or suspected of past prostitution. No one should be forced to play a ‘cat and mouse’ game to discover, or prove that prostitution is happening behind closed doors.

The sale of sex will continue to harm accommodation businesses like ours by lowering both occupancy rates and property values, unless an upfront disclosure requirement is put in place.

We ask the Attorney-General to consider further support for accommodation owners by making booking a room for prostitution practices unlawful unless written consent from the owner has first been obtained.

‘Kangaroo’ justice nightmare

Anti-discrimination claims are decided under a parallel system of injustice that is heavily biased towards professional complainers.

In defending ourselves against this claim, we lost the right to a fair trial of the kind that civil litigants and accused criminals can expect.

We gained the right to legal representation before the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal only after our Barrister requested three times. And then we only got a barrister as we needed to argue a point of law. We were then forced to waste fees in two tribunal hearings before getting a proper judicial hearing in the Court of Appeal. It took us close to 3 years and in excess of $50,000 in legal fees to get there.

Even though we won, we lost, because the process and the stress is the punishment.

The government should scrap the parallel system of ‘kangaroo justice’ reserved for anti-discrimination cases.