Friday, November 05, 2010


Below is the draft of my submission on the Manukau City Council (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill:

  1. I oppose the Manukau City Council (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill for the following reasons:
  2. The bill seeks to reverse the effects of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 by effectively recriminalising prostitution within the bounds of Manukau City. While Manukau has a problem with streetwalkers, it is largely a problem of its own making, caused by the effective outlawing of small brothels by local bylaws.1 While this bill targets street prostitutes and their clients, when considered in combination with existing bylaws the effect would be to outlaw the entire sex industry within Manukau. This is clearly contrary to the intent of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003.
  3. Recriminalising prostitution in Manukau would once again place sex workers outside the law, allowing them to be victimized with impunity. The PRA was passed precisely to end that situation. Any response should be based on the paradigm of harm-minimization, not on recriminalisation.
  4. In 2005, a similar bill (the Manukau City Council (Control of Street Prostitution) Bill) was rejected by the House. At the time, the Local Government and Environment Committee noted [PDF] that the bill
    would present enforcement and jurisdictional difficulties. While local legislation typically addresses issues unique to a particular locality and does not involve itself with the criminal law, this local bill creates offences that criminalise behaviour that exists throughout New Zealand. If the bill were passed, citizens would be subject to conflicting criminal laws, depending on their current geographical location.
    It rejected this balkanization of New Zealand law, as well as the implicit attempt to overturn the PRA through local legislation.
  5. The current bill has exactly the same problem. That alone is enough reason to reject it.
  6. A review of the problem by the Ministry of Justice found that outlawing street prostitution in Manukau was unlikely to be effective, and would instead simply move street prostitutes to other areas while impairing their health and safety. It recommended a local community response instead.
  7. The penalties for soliciting proposed by the Bill are disproportionate and draconian, and ten times higher than those which existed before decriminalization. If the bill is passed, these penalties should be reduced.
  8. I do not wish to appear before the Committee.

1 Chapter 3 [PDF] of the Manukau City Consolidated Bylaw 2008 restricts brothels to land zoned Business 4, 5, or 6, and not within 250m or sight of the entrance to a school, church, or community facility. This effectively restricts brothels to the outskirts of the city.