27 Feb 2015

Bill to restrict where prostitutes work dropped

8:32 am on 27 February 2015

MPs have overwhelmingly voted against a Bill to restrict where prostitutes can pick up clients on the streets of Auckland.

A Bill proposing restrictions had been considered in various guises in Parliament for the past 10 years, but on Wednesday night, MPs voted against it, 111 votes to nine.

It was a disappointing result for the chair of the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board, Efeso Collins.

"Parliament has come back to us and said you can make your own bylaws, so go back and do it."

Mr Collins said the bill would have paved the way for specially designed areas, which would have also been safer for workers.

"The activity, or street based sex work, could go on in this particular area.

"We would have made sure that there would have been ablution blocks available - one of the real challenges in Papatoetoe was the fact that young kids were going to school finding used condoms all over the street.

"It would have been a well-lit area (and) there would have been CCTV."

Mr Collins said he was not sure why MPs dismissed the Bill, and said he wondered if they understood the complex issues faced by people in the local community.

But Greens MP Jan Logie, who was on the Select Committee when it considered the bill last year, said it was not needed, and Auckland Council already has the power to create its own bylaw without any help from Parliament.

"There is a bylaw making ability there already, so that the council can regulate street work through bylaws."

"Rodney District Council has done that, so has Hamilton Council.

"Our job is to try and create laws that will work, and that aren't duplicating other laws, and that won't just tie up the time of Parliament, unnecessarily."

She said problems highlighted by the community were often already covered by other laws, like disorderly behaviour, so there would be no point in duplicating legislation.

National co-ordinator of the Prostitutes Collective Catherine Healey was delighted at the MPs vote.

She said the bill was essentially a ban, which would have negative impacts on the workers.

"It would have meant a ban in some places - zoning street-based sex work.

"From our point of view, we had concerns about it, that we would see a return to people being fined, having to duck and hide, working in less safe conditions."

Auckland Council so far had not commented on the MPs vote.

Meanwhile, the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board said staff were going back to the drawing board to come up with a by-law proposal.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs