FORMER Southern River MLA Peter Abetz, now state director of the Australian Christian Lobby, is calling for the Nordic approach to prostitution in WA following support by the Victorian Liberal Party ahead their state election in November.
If the Liberal Party wins the Victorian election, it would seek legislation changes to laws adopted by Sweden and other countries including France of making it an offence to purchase or attempt to purchase sex services, but not to sell sex.
Selling sex services was no longer a crime in countries with the Nordic approach, Mr Abetz said, and significant funding had been put into exit programs for affected women.
This approach however is in stark contrast to an extensive state-wide study of prostitution released by Curtin University in October last year which recommended decriminalisation of prostitution as more sex work moves online and away from brothels and street work.
WA legislation is currently covered by the Prostitution Act 2000.
The study offered a snap shot of WA’s sex industry with seven local governments and two police officers involved and 354 workers surveyed.
It showed a significant increase in the number of private sex workers predominantly advertising online, which was affecting brothel owners, plus an increasing demand by clients for “natural” or unprotected services.
The study found about 40 shop front massage parlours in WA offered discreet and cheaper services than brothels.
But Mr Abetz said the study was flawed as it ignored the “inherent violence of prostitution” and took the feminist view that women want to sell sex.
He said the Nordic approach looked at prostitution as exploitation of vulnerable people for sex or profit.
“Wherever you go where prostitution has been decriminalised there been increased demand which leads to greater sex trafficking,” Mr Abetz said.
While in Russia, he said he was told by St Petersburg Police that 30,000 to 35,000 young women were trafficked out of Russia every year and less than 2 per cent return.
He said in some sense, prostitution was in international issue but in terms of legislation it was a state issue in Australia, and trafficking an issue for the Federal Police.
Mr Abetz said prior to the 2017 WA State Election, both Mark McGowan and then premier Colin Barnett said prostitution would not be a matter for consideration in the following term of government.
Questions to Mr McGowan’s office were not to responded to by deadline.
“The Government is currently responsible for setting the legislative agenda and we will determine our position on their legislation once they have tabled it,” Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said.
“We will be considering the policies we will take to the election in due course.”