27 Jan 2011

Council backs bill to outlaw street prostitution

8:05 pm on 27 January 2011

The Auckland Council has voted to support a controversial bill before Parliament that would outlaw street prostitution.

The Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places Bill was initiated by the defunct Manukau City Council.

The bill will allow the new amalgamated council to dictate where prostitutes can solicit from and enable police to arrest and fine them and their clients.

Councillors on Thursday voted 11 to 7 to back the bill in a submission to a parliamentary select committee in February.

A councillors opposing the law change, Cathy Casey, says it would be disgraceful to supersede the laws that legalised prostitution and made the occupation safer.

The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective told the council the change will drive street prostitutes underground, going against the purposes of the Prostitution Reform Act.

But Mayor Len Brown supports the bill and asked councillors to put themselves in the shoes of communities worst affected by street prostitution.

Mr Brown says there would be strict conditions in place so the bill does not get applied without good reason.

Prostitutes 'driving companies away'

The Hunters Corner Business Association in Papatoetoe says prostitutes are causing companies to relocate.

Community safety forum head George Wood says it recognises that prostitution will always exist, but some regulating is needed to protect businesses.

The association says the area's reputation as a red-light district has hurt businesses.

However, Charlotte Ama from the City Mission says many of the problems associated with street prostitution have been solved, thanks to the Prostitution Reform Act and self-regulation.

Ms Ama says the motivation appears to be aimed at sweeping New Zealand's social problems under the carpet for the duration of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.