Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 July 2018) . . Page.. 2388 ..
Finally, this bill would make a number of minor and consequential amendments, as well as to other legislation, primarily associated with language. For instance, the Prostitution Regulation 1993 will be replaced by the new sex work regulation 2018.
The Canberra Liberals will not oppose these minor consequential amendments except insofar as they relate to the elements of the bill that the Canberra Liberals will be opposing. I will address those in the 19 amendments that I propose to move in the detail stage. Don’t panic; we can move them all together.
Madam Speaker, this bill is, I believe, somewhat schizophrenic. On one hand it tightens up some areas but relaxes others. In relaxing some areas, the bill opens the sex industry and its workers to risk. Some might be new, but many others do not change fundamentally. It does not seem to follow the trend of other countries where prostitution is seen as being something of a victim in itself, especially when it comes to such heinous crimes as violence against women, drug, human and sexual trafficking.
It seems that once again the ACT government is not as progressive as it would claim but is catching up with the past based on ideology rather than real evidence. There are issues that I will address in the detail stage. I suppose the summation is that there are some parts of this legislation that the opposition will not be opposing.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (12.15): I rise today to speak in support of this bill and in support of a group of women and men in our community who are working hard to make a living. Like anyone in private business, these people seek an employer or find a premises to establish their business. They develop their brand and create rapport with their clients to build a strong reputation. The only difference between these men and women and others in private business in Canberra is that they are sex workers.
The key word here is that they are workers. Like any other type of worker in this city, they should be respected as coming from a legitimate profession, they should be able to stay safe at work and in their workplace, and they should be able to carry out their business without being overly burdened by bureaucracy.
The bill before the Assembly today reforms our legislation to reduce stigma and discrimination around sex work. It cuts red tape for sex businesses and mandates new safety measures for sex workers.
One of the important changes this bill achieves is to change references to “prostitutes” and “prostitution” right across our statute book to “sex worker” and “sex work” respectively. “What is in a name?” you may ask. Well, quite a lot. If you do a quick google of the term “prostitute”, the first hit, as you would expect, is a reference to engaging in sexual activity for payment. There is another definition given, though, and that is to:
Put (oneself or one’s talents) to an unworthy or corrupt use for personal or financial gain.