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New Australian Trafficking Laws Proposed - 2005

The Criminal Code Amendments (Trafficking in Persons Offences) Bill 2004 [2005] has recently passed through Australian Federal Parliament. We bring you an update of the legislation, parliamentary speeches, and the work Scarlet Alliance has done on this issue. Most of these links take you away from the Scarlet Alliance website and to Parliamentary pages.

In July 2005 the Bill was passed through Federal Parliament and became law. It has been the result of a long process which is relevant due to the lack of input from migrant sex workers, the people most greatly impacted by the law.

In 1999/2000 the Criminal Code was amended to cater specifically for trafficking offences, with a focus on the sex industry (described as sexual servitude). Since then, raids, detention and deportation of sex workers from Asian backgrounds by the Australian Federal Police and DIMIA has created distress, fear and death among sex workers from Asian backgrounds. Owners and managers of brothels that employ sex workers from Asian backgrounds have responded by withdrawing from the regulated/legalised frameworks of the sex industry and finding more underground locations from which to operate; in order to avoid police and immigration attention. In 2003 an Parliamentary Joint Committee of the Australian Crime Commission was called to examine the effectiveness of the laws. Submissions and hearings were held, and a report was released. For full text of the witnesses to the inquiry (including Scarlet Alliance) you can download the hansard. To see the report go to the Senate Joint-Committee Website. Last year the amendments to the criminal code were released in an "Exposure Draft" for public comment and submissions during the election period in October 2004. For more information about the "Exposure Draft" you can go to the Attorney Generals Website.

The Attorney Generals office tabled the Criminal Code Amendment (Trafficking in Pesons) Bill in Parliament in late 2004. The Bill was said to be a result of the submissions and community input that had occured over the last two years. The Opposition did not agree.

Labor Senator Joe Ludwig recognised major problems within the Bill and in February 2005 the Bill was reconsidered by the Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee of the Senate. There were public submissions and hearings. You can see a full list of the submissions that were recieved at the Committee Website. For full text of the witnesses at the inquiry (including Scarlet Alliance) you can download the Committee hansard. On the 10th of March the Legal and Consitutional Legislation Committee of the Senate reported their findings from their hearings into the Criminal Code Amendments (Trafficking in Persons Offences) Bill 2004/5. THe report can be downloaded in a PDF

On Monday the 14th of March the Bill was withdrawn from the Senate to allow more time for the Government to assess the Committees' recomendations. It is was reintroduced on the 21st of June 2005 and has now become law.

Scarlet Alliance, SWOP NSW, the NSWP (Network of Sex Work Projects), the APNSW (Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers) and other sex worker groups and individuals have contributed to the long process that has led to the current changes to the Criminal Code; writing submissions and briefing papers for every step of the process and appearing as witnesses at all of the hearings. The Bill which has now become law does not include our input or expertise. There is an unexplained preoccupation with identifying the sex industry above and beyond all other industries where involuntary trafficking may occur. This is never more evident than in the politicians speeches in support of the new laws. We have chosen some quotes from politicians that illustrate the divergant and misinformed views. Go the the Speeches page.

Scarlet Alliance Submissions to the Proposed New Laws

Executive Summary 2004

Scenarios from the Scarlet Submission 2004 Silence of the Lambs

Full Submission 2004, PDF

Full Submission, Parliamentary Inquiry 2003

Other Relevant Websites

Network of Sex Work Projects For analysis and commentary on the global push to regulate and criminalise the mobility of migrant workers.