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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 24 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

employment. Threats against families still at home are another means of keeping them in silence, as is straight physical violence and threats of deportation or imprisonment by Australian authorities should they complain.

The bill before us today will apply to people whose crime is committed entirely within Australia, as the Commonwealth has jurisdiction over situations where any part of the crime is committed overseas. Sexual servitude is defined as forcing a person to provide commercial sexual services, with some latitude for reasonable contractual arrangements for sex work. The actions involved in this crime-forcing or being involved in the forcing of someone to have sex-are covered to a large degree by the sexual crimes part of the Crimes Act. That includes abduction. But this bill additionally criminalises those who profit from or manage the business of forcing someone to have sex, which does seem to make it clear who is at fault.

We hope that in the ACT, with regulated brothels, we have minimised the opportunities for this kind of operation, for enslaved sex workers. But Sheila Jeffries of the campaign against trafficking in women claims that the decriminalisation of prostitution in Victoria preceded an increase in this kind of sexual servitude, including the overseas component. The aim of decriminalising prostitution was largely to ensure better protection and working conditions for sex workers. I would like to hear from the Attorney-General on whether he can assure this Assembly that regulation here does not mean that sexual servitude could be going on unnoticed.

I am sure that none of us here want this legislation to be only the appearance of caring about the fate of people who are brought into this situation. However, it seems that the federal government may be more concerned about keeping people out of this country than it is about violations of human rights. In Sydney there was a special operations group responsible for tracking sex trafficking, but it was disbanded last year. This unit had operated for three years, but there were no prosecutions.

It seems that not many women are willing to be witnesses, as the Commonwealth legislation does not include any protection for witnesses who may be here without visas, the paperwork having been arranged by their captors. They also face the prospect of waiting possibly years in a detention centre for the case to come up, without any way of working and earning an income, and the organisers of the trafficking are not likely to let go of such a money-spinner very easily.

Chris Payne, a former AFP officer of the Sydney unit, said:

The system is geared to pick up illegal workers, and if they don't leave voluntarily, stick them into an immigration detention centre. They're not going to put women like this into the witness protection programs which are probably full of people giving evidence in drug cases, and are extremely expensive to maintain. So somebody's got to decide how we're going to look after these women when they come forward and want to give evidence. And nobody has, nobody wants it.

I am disappointed that the drive for "no amnesty for illegals", as a poster sporting Mr Ruddock says, is more important federally than giving the protection needed to get witnesses, so that the people who arrange this abuse of human rights can be prosecuted. It is a great shame that some form of witness protection is not part of the Commonwealth legislation. The fact that there was a police unit operating prior to this

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