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.