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Cheers and Jeers over brothel ban, Michelle Paine, Tasmanian Mercury, 7 Oct 2005

ANTI-Prostitution lobbyists were jubilant yesterday over Attorney-General Judy Jackson's backflip on sex worker regulations. Tasmania's brothels - of which there are between 15 and 50 - have been warned of $50,000 fines and five-year jail terms. Coalition Against Legalised Brothels and the Australian Christian Lobby congratulated the Government for plans to increase police powers to remove brothels.

"We believe there would be provision in the bill for women to leave the lifestyle and be rehabilitated," said coalition spokeswoman Pat Gartlan.

She said the group represented 11 or 12 groups including churches.

"This is a result of a Tasmanian groundswell. Legislative Council members told of thousands of messages from people opposed to legalising brothels and of people coming up to them in the street," Mrs Gartlan said.

She said many sex workers had been abused earlier in life and are addicted to drugs and provisions should be made to address their problems and allow them to change lifestyles.

But sex workers, the Hobart Community Legal Service and national group Scarlet Alliance said banning brothels would make prostitution more dangerous than it already is.

The owner of Glenorchy brothel Models High Class Action said closing brothels would only mean a proliferation of women and men working from home, with no scrutiny and greater risk of exposing children to the practice.

Ms Jackson issued a statement saying the legislation would address protecting children and promoting safe sex.

She said the Government still believed regulation would have been best but they could not ignore the strength of feeling.

The Liberals' position was to support regulating brothels as long as there were several provisions including buffer zones.

Liberal justice spokesman Michael Hodgman said the move was extraordinary.

"It's further proof the Lennon Government is an incompetent rabble. We've called on her to release the bill so other members and the public can have a look at it," Mr Hodgman said.

Greens justice spokesman Nick McKim said the change would be bad for workers and increase the risk of more children becoming prostitutes.