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Auckland City Responds To Sex Industry Concerns

Auckland City today resolved to make submissions on Labour Member of Parliament, Tim Barnett's, Prostitution Reform Bill. This is seen as a way to achieve effective regulation of the sex industry in the central city and suburbs.

The Chairman of the City Advocacy Committee, Councillor Richard Northey said the Council needed to respond appropriately to public concerns about a number of issues concerning the sex industry. These included the risks to sex workers, exploitation of under age girls, foreign prostitutes, and offensive and dangerous litter. Schools, residents, businesses and police have all expressed their dissatisfaction that the Massage Parlours Act only covers a minority of the sex industry, while at the same time the Crimes Act with its total ban on brothels and soliciting is proving outdated, unfair and unenforceable.

Councillor Northey says that the City Advocacy Committee resolved to take action on two issues that are already within Council's power. These are the removal of offensive litter such as used condoms, syringes and needles, and the effective enforcement of the by-law concerning offensive commercial signage.

The Council will consider in particular the alternative legislative frameworks of either decriminalisation, as proposed by Tim Barnett's Bill, or else licensing and registration of the sex industry. Tim Barnett's Prostitution Reform Bill would make the sex industry a legal industry like retailing or entertainment with the addition of prohibitions on underpaid or coercive prostitution and a requirement to promote safe sex and health information.

Councillor Northey said the City Council's own wide-ranging stakeholder and interest group forum on the issue had found some support for Tim Barnett's decriminalisation approach but were more in favour of a licensing and registration regime.

"Such a regime would require the licensing of brothels and similar sex industry premises and registration of prostitution businesses", said Councillor Northey.

"This would help ensure such premises were located away from schools and other sensitive activities.

"There would be more opportunity to enforce health and OSH standards, to communicate vital information and to effectively act against exploitative and offensive behaviour", said Councillor Northey.

The Bill's promoter, Tim Barnett, has been invited to brief the Committee; to help determine which approach the Council will advocate.

ENDS

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