Cunningham anti prostitution
THERE is no activity more demeaning and demoralising than prostitution according to Member for Gladstone Liz Cunningham.
Ms Cunningham vocalised her opinion about the Queensland Government’s Prostitution and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2009 in parliament on Wednesday.
Below is the transcript of her speech in parliament.
Mrs CUNNINGHAM (Gladstone—Ind) (8.04 pm): I rise to speak to the Prostitution and Other
Acts Amendment Bill 2009. As has occurred with other bills in relation to prostitution, I will not be
supporting this piece of legislation. Again—and I believe I have said it before—we have spent many
years endeavouring to encourage women and girls and men and boys to be confident in their value and
to be confident in the contribution that they can make not only to the community and to their family but
also to themselves. I can think of no activity that is more demeaning and demoralising than prostitution.
Whilst it is predominantly an activity that traps women and girls, there are a lot of men and boys who are
also caught in that same activity. Many of the women in particular who are involved in trafficking
themselves have a drug addiction and the vast majority of those who were not drug addicts to start off
with which pushed them into prostitution become dependent on some kind of substance to be able to
cope with the lifestyle.
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Every now and again we hear the story—sometimes it is proffered by the media and other times it
is proffered by those who are strong supporters of prostitution—that there are people in our society who
choose prostitution as a means to an end. For example, uni students choose prostitution to pay for their
courses et cetera. That is trotted out on a regular basis. If we had access to genuine statistics, I believe
that we would find that those people who voluntarily, knowingly and in control of their destiny choose
that activity would be so infinitesimal that it would hardly reach the radar. Again—and I have said it
before in this place—I believe prostitution is a most soul-destroying activity. I note that in the minister’s
second reading speech he stated—
This bill continues to support the five guiding principles regulating prostitution in Queensland ...
The minister then went on to list them. The first was ensuring quality of life for communities. The
minister did not introduce the first bill or the first piece of legislation. He was not the minister with
carriage of this portfolio then, but if that were a guiding principle then communities with a population
over 25,000 would have been given discretion to choose through their local government whether or not
those communities had legal brothels. I note that the member for Gregory has stated that he will move
an amendment that will give that discretion back to local government.
The second guiding principle was safeguarding against corruption and organised crime. I believe
that if one spoke with those crime-fighting organisations one would find very quickly that corruption and
organised crime is up to its eyeballs in prostitution and the selling of people against their will. The third
guiding principle was addressing the social factors that contribute to involvement in the sex industry. I
would be much more convinced of that principle and one that the government is living by, if you like, if
there could be statistics shown of how many people have been helped out of prostitution with
government resources, and I do not think there are many. There is the Hope organisation that the
member for Maryborough referred to. It does have stories particularly of women and young people that
it has helped out of that cycle of prostitution, but we do not allocate resources to it. We do not seriously
address that area at all.
The fourth guiding principle was ensuring a healthy society, and I believe that if we had a healthy
society we would not be debating this legislation today. The last guiding principle was promoting safety,
and I will speak about that later during my contribution to debate on this bill. Again the minister’s second
reading speech states—
While the CMC has highlighted the need for the legal industry to remain competitive and sustainable in a way which would not
lead to an overall increase in the industry, it also recognises that further deregulation by legalising outcall services would not
achieve this and may in fact leave the legal industry open to those who seek to legitimise their illegal activities through legal
I find that paragraph astonishing. I know that the CMC’s report was released back in 2006 and
that it has taken some time for this parliament to come to the point of implementing the
recommendations of the 2006 CMC report, but the approach by the CMC about prostitution remaining
competitive and sustainable I just find an astonishing approach to take. We are talking about people, we
are talking about human lives that are changed forever by their experiences. That is confirmed by
other amendments in this bill that attempt to provide a safer working environment for people who are
involved in outcall services.
I believe that we are all kidding ourselves. The minister’s second reading speech states—
Currently a sole operator can employ one person to act as a bodyguard. This person must be appropriately licensed and only act
in that capacity for that sole operator.
That is semantics. The minister’s second reading speech states further—
To enhance the safety and welfare of sole operators the bill will amend the Criminal Code to allow for the employment of a driver
and to allow a person to take an advisory message from a sole operator.
The minister’s second reading speech goes on to state—
A message taker under this provision is not a receptionist.
I am sorry, but it is a receptionist, and I am sorry, but the bodyguard probably will be a pimp. We
can call it whatever we want to call it. We can say that it is a bodyguard but, if you are a betting person,
you can just about lay bets that that person’s ultimate role will be either to pimp that person or they will
become the pimp for that person. We can kid ourselves all we like in this place about what we are
attempting to legitimise, but the fact is that we are not providing a better environment for our young men
and our young women. We are not, because we are legitimising an environment and a lifestyle that is
The member for Maryborough commended the minister for some of the steps that he has taken in
an attempt to improve the lot of people who are involved in prostitution. The best way that we can
improve the lot of those who are involved in prostitution against their will is to free them from it and the
best way that we can improve the lot of those who are caught up in prostitution because they see it as
the only way that they can get an income is to provide them with an income that builds them up and
does not destroy them. On that basis, I cannot support this legislation. My hope is that there will be a
time when young women, young children and young men who are caught in prostitution against their will
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are able to find a new path for their lives and to find fulfilment that will build them up and not tear them