Vote on controversial sex work Bill delayed

Upper House debate due today on proposed dramatic changes to South Australia’s sex work legislation has been postponed until next year after last-minute amendments.

Nov 29, 2023, updated Nov 29, 2023
Photo: Angela Skujins / InDaily.

Photo: Angela Skujins / InDaily.

Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Nicola Centofanti told InDaily the delay would give members more time to consider some last-minute changes to her Bill.

The Upper House was due to vote on Centofanti’s proposed changes to the Summary Offences Act this afternoon.

Centofanti said she now expected the vote to take place early next year.

If it passes both chambers, the Bill would make it an offence to pay for sex in South Australia – criminalising those who engage sex workers – with penalties including jail time contemplated.

The approach is known as the “Nordic Model” by some because of where it originates from, but Centofanti said she preferred to call it the “Equality Bill” or the “Abolitionist Bill”.

Currently, it is illegal to operate a brothel in South Australia and sex work itself is criminalised under state legislation.

“Today’s vote has been postponed due to some late suggested amendments. We must ensure that the best piece of legislation possible is put forward, with the rights and empowerment of prostituted persons at its heart,” Centofanti told InDaily.

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“It is timely that South Australia is having an awakening on gender-based violence in our community right now. You cannot have a conversation about gender-based violence without addressing a society that views women and girls as commodities to be bought and sold.

“The postponement today will only strengthen the Equality Model legislation and I look forward to continuing the fight for reform when parliament resumes in February.”

Speaking to InDaily today, Greens MLC Tammy Franks – who was outspoken about her opposition to the Bill and has previously pushed for decriminalisation of sex work – said Centofanti’s proposal “does not appear to have the support of the Upper House”.

“The Centofanti Bill that seeks to make it illegal for sex workers to be paid for their work in a safe and regulated environment does not appear to have the support of the Upper House,” she said.

“We as Parliamentarians have a duty to ensure all workers have rights and safety, and adult consensual sex work is work.”

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