As a sex worker who has worked across Australia under a range of regulatory regimes, I find it amusing that politicians constantly debate workplaces that they know absolutely nothing about, except that such debate can lead to terrible changes for my work.
Currently in NSW the sex work debate is centred around whether the then Liberal MP Chris Hartcher’s 2011 election promise of licensing brothels is worth pursuing in legislation. Since it has already failed as a system for regulation in Victoria and Queensland you would think such a silly idea wouldn’t get very far. However the political lure of licensing as a ”solution” to supposed ”crimes” within the NSW sex industry has gained much more traction than it deserves.
Licensing brothels does not replace the current regulatory work councils are required to do. Instead it adds an extra layer of bureaucracy. Councils will still have to consider development applications from brothels. Councils will still have to make provision for sex work within their local environmental plans (LEPs). No amount of political rhetoric, new licensing bodies, new laws, new forms, new costs or new police will replace the work of councils. Councils will still have the very same work to do, regardless of whether licensing laws are introduced or not. There are councillors in NSW who think licensing is a panacea to brothels in their area – but this is not the case.