Auckland Council needs to rethink street prostitution Bill

Some good news is that Parliament looks likely to vote down the draconian Bill to recriminalise street prostitution proposed by the former Manukau City Council.

[The Bill’s sponsor, Manurewa MP George Hawkins] suspects the bill will get “voted down at its second reading” like Manukau’s previous attempt in 2006.

The objections to this bill are the same, Mr Hawkins says.

“They don’t like the idea of legislation that deals with a social problem that may be widespread in other areas being done as a local bill.”

It’s also criticised by MPs and submitters as unworkable, dangerous for public health and contrary to the Prostitution Reform Act, the Bill of Rights and New Zealand’s obligations under international agreements.

The select committee is now waiting for the council to amend the bill to reflect its wider reach and to publicly notify the changes.

Instead of amending the Bill, the Auckland Council should withdraw it. The problems they are seeking to address by recriminalising street prostitution are problems that can be addressed in other ways.  The real issues are not street prostitution itself but the associated littering (used condoms, empty bottles and cans, drug paraphernalia) and behaviour (drunkenness, public sexual activity).  There are already laws to address those issues. The Auckland Council should be talking with the Police about how to best enforce those laws.

It should also be talking about how to enhance the safety of sex workers by encouraging them to work from brothels, rather than victimising them by attempting to outlaw street prostitution in Auckland.

Arise, Sir Rodney Bjelke-Petersen

Sir Joh would have been proud.

Back in the1970s and 1980s one of New Zealand’s more infamous emigrants, the corrupt and racist Queensland Premier the late Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, held onto power by what became known as the Bjelke-mander under which electorate boundaries were drawn so that rural electorates had about half as many voters as metropolitan ones.

As a result, Bjelke-Petersen was able to retain the State Premiership with as little as 20% of the vote going to his Country (later National) Party.

Now take a look at this table, taken from the Local Government Commission’s proposed ward boundaries for the Supercity:

I live in the Waitakere ward. So the vote of someone who lives in the Rodney ward will be worth 1.42 times my vote.  The vote of someone who lives in the Hibiscus-Albany-East Coast Bays ward will be worth 1.32 times my vote.  The vote of someone who lives in the Howick-Botany-Pakuranga ward will be worth 1.31 times my vote.  The vote of someone who lives in the Frankin ward will be worth 1.28 times my vote.

The structure is clearly screwed to provide greater worth to votes from areas that traditionally vote centre-right than those that traditionally vote centre-left or are more evenly politically balanced.

I don’t blame the Local Government Commission.  They were left with little choice given the Government’s legislating that there  would be only 20 councillors, that they would all be elected under First Past the Post, and that Rodney and Franklin would have to have one councillor each.

A gerrymander was inevitable.  And was no doubt planned because, as Rodney Hide said himself:

…you turn up with your papers … they [Cabinet] are too busy with their own stuff; they’re not bothered…