|Why has the Local Government and Environment select committee's report on the ill-fated Manukau City (Regulating Prostitution in Specified Places) been deferred until 30 September?
Possibly, it is because the select committee itself is in conflict over whether or not to further progress the bill. In essence, it is not too dissimilar to the earlier Manukau City (Control of Street Prostitution) Bill, earlier rejected by Parliament, and differs only in title. It still contains the same breaches of the Bill of Rights Act 1990, still contains the same excessive penalties against street sex workers and their clients, and still carries the same risk of diverting street sex workers to unsafe and remote working areas as has happened with the Summary Offences Act 1988 in New South Wales and the Sarkozy-era Domestic Security Act 2003 in France.
Why might this be the case? Admittedly, Family First and its cronies did its job well in mobilising individual support at the select committee stage, albeit merely with pro forma recommended copies with no substantive evidence grounding their 'case' against street sex work in Manukau City (and further abroad) other than anecdotal instances of 'public nuisance.' Even Family First's own submission was mediocre and impressionistic rather than based on any real or substantive 'objections' to street sex work.
However, while submissions that supported the Prostitution Reform Act's status quo were fewer, corporate and organisational submissions tended to be weightier and carried more medical, social scientific and legislative evidence that overseas antisoliciting bills, as well as New Zealand's own past antisoliciting elements of pre-reform sex work prohibition only acted to endanger New Zealand sex workers lives and health. Effectively, they seem to have provided a handy counterweight to the puff populist lightweight submissions from supporters of the Manukau bill. I suspect that this is the dilemma which now faces the Local Government and Environment select committee in this context- "public opinion" (?) versus professional evidence to the contrary.
For whatever reason, though, this wretched bill has been deferred. However, this gives us further time to lobby the Local Government and Environment select committee members and other MPs, establish an organisation to counter Family First's hijacking of the select committee phase of this bill, encourage opposed organisations to reiterate their select committee condemnation of the dangers of this bill, encourage media outlets to do further background research on the hazards of overseas anti-soliciting bills, make our collective opposition known to the Auckland City Council, and warn the latter that we will not tolerate any further moves that endanger the lives and health of some of our most vulnerable LGBT community members.
As well as that, as I have said previously, we need to move to establish concrete assistance to assist street sex workers beyond provision of safe sex materials and occupational health and safety alone and give them far more life opportunities and choices than they currently have.
We can no longer afford to let this issue go unanswered and neglected.
Manukau City (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/local/2010/0197/latest/DLM3177401.html
Parliament: Manukau City (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill: http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Legislation/Bills/b/1/2/00DBHOH_BILL10290_1-Manukau Craig Young - 18th June 2013