Below is a letter to all the Mayors and CEOs of local and regional authorities in New Zealand from Local Board Chairs of Otara-Papatoetoe, Mangere-Otahuhu and Manurewa regarding the Auckland Council Street Prostitution Bill.
28 October 2012
In July, we posted you a copy of a book titled "The Street Prostitution Industry in the southern communities of Auckland."
We are following up to thank you for the letters of support we have received to date and ask for your continued support for this Bill.
While we do hope your Council is never required to deal with the issues of a totally unruly street sex trade, we write to remind you that as it stands you will have little effective legal authority to address this industry if it becomes established.
This Bill has been languishing in Parliament for over two years and without it, we are helpless to create meaningful bylaws to control where street sex workers and their clients can ply their trade.
Why we need this Bill
1. A bylaw under the Local Government Act today, would potentially be in conflict with the Prostitution Reform Act and the Bill of Rights Act. Without explicit power from Parliament to regulate street prostitution and provide effective enforcement provisions, ratepayers will be liable for ongoing judicial challenges and litigation.
2. Today, the law enables street prostitution to operate as the freest form of commercial trading in the country. This situation was allowed to occur based on a judgement that street prostitution would naturally move indoors once prostitution was legalised. Not only has that proved to be incorrect, but we have found that the numbers have increased and their behaviour has become more outrageous.
3. Unlike a number of bylaws that are rarely enforced for want of effective enforcement powers, this Bill will provide the NZ Police with the tools they need to prevent the breach of the bylaw. Such effective enforcement powers are the difference between the effectiveness of bylaws such as liquor bans and a whole range of other infringement offences.
We believe the bill is fair and reasonable. It affects both street workers and customers, has penalties similar to other minor disorder offences and does not seek to ban street prostitution across Auckland.
4. Our advocacy on this issue dates back almost ten years under the former Manukau City Council. We are yet to receive the tools we need address the effects of this industry on our businesses, families and communities.
5. We understand that our experiences are not shared by other communities across New Zealand but our concerns should be. That is why we have promoted a local Bill. We believe in the principle of local solutions for local issues and we ask for your support and defence of that principle.
We ask for your support
1. To date a number of local authorities and elected members have contacted us and confirmed their support for the Bill. We thank you for your support.
2. For those of you who are yet to consider the merits of this Bill, we urge you to read our booklet, talk to our affected communities or contact us personally to discuss the issue. Once convinced, a letter of support from your council will play an important role in helping us advocate on this issue.
Ultimately this matter will be decided by Parliament. Despite their inaction to date, we believe a loud and united voice from the local government sector will be invaluable in sending a message to Parliament that local concerns must be taken seriously. To that end we also urge you to contact your local MP and ask that they support and progress this Bill.
3. We understand that the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 was based on good intentions and addressed the unfairness and many inadequacies of prostitution being illegal. We do not seek to reverse the effects of the Act. However, we do need the willingness and ability to look at the evidence, and adjust legislation to address unforeseen results. This is such an occasion.
4. Our communities have had enough and they expect us to represent them effectively on this issue. We will continue our efforts. We are stronger together and together we can make Parliament take notice.
Please contact any of us directly if you would like further information.
￼￼￼John McCracken, Chair
Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board
Leau Peter Skelton, Chair
Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board
Angela Dalton, Chair
Manurewa Local Board