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Australian Attorney General challenges anti-prostitution lobby

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Mr Porter said that those pushing for outright bans on prostitution have been using unsubstantiated claims about the failure of legalising or regulating prostitution in other States and countries. A statistic that says the number of illegal brothels in Victoria exploded from 149 to 400 in three years since it enacted the 1994 Prostitution Control Act under a similar model to Mr Porter’s was based on a report in Melbourne newspaper The Age, the source for which was either someone from the adult entertainment industry or “an unnamed source”, he said

Similarly, Mr Porter dismissed the effectiveness of the ‘Swedish model’ which criminalises the purchaser but not seller of sex, and its champion Gunilla Ekberg, the expert adviser to the Swedish Government in the development and implementation of their legislation who was brought to Perth to advise MPs who ended up passing the previous Labor Government’s Prostitution Amendment Act 2008.

Having researched Ms Ekberg’s original documents, Mr Porter said she sources herself, her own anecdotes of conversations she’s had with people and newspaper articles “which themselves do not have proper sources”.

He noted that she also cites a group of reports issued by County Police of Stockholm, which say that in Sweden there has been some success in reducing street prostitution but “on the other hand, we do not know whether it has had any effect on prostitution overall”.

On whether the extent of prostitution has increased or decreased, he quoted the Swedish Government’s National Board of Health and Welfare as saying: “We cannot give any unambiguous answer to that question. At most we can discern that street prostitution is slowly returning after swiftly disappearing in the wake of the law against purchasing sexual services, but that refers to street prostitution, the most obvious manifestation. In regards to other areas, ‘hidden’ prostitution, we are even less able to make any statement”.

From this, Mr Porter concluded: “So I would counsel caution against believing on face value some of the quite expansive and, in my view, unsubstantiated positives that people have attached to the Swedish model.”

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