The West

Liberal  rebellion  over prostitution laws
Trouble: Liberal MPs to rebel over prostitution laws. Picture: Margaret Bertling/Wa News

A Government MP has warned Colin Barnett that any move to reintroduce controversial prostitution legislation to the Parliament will ignite a "civil war" in the Liberal Party.

In a strongly worded attempt to kill off the stalled 2011 Prostitution Bill, which includes plans to licence and partially decriminalise WA's sex industry, Liberal MP Nick Goiran urged the Government to abandon the touted reforms.

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Mr Goiran, an Upper House MP and committee chairman in the last Parliament, said yesterday that prostitution must remain illegal and the Government should focus on rescuing women in the sex trade.

His views were supported by Lower House Liberal MP Peter Abetz, who said he would never support any attempt to legitimise prostitution.

Mr Goiran believes a rehabilitation centre, like one set up in Perth by former prostitute Linda Watson, should be replicated and funded by the Barnett Government.

"Rather than initiate a civil war, I anticipate the new Government would more likely be inclined to explore ways of supporting and replicating Linda's House of Hope," Mr Goiran said. "The aborted legislation would need to be resuscitated by a minister and then survive both the Cabinet and the Liberal Party room processes. This is, in my view, highly improbable."

He said the Premier's post-election victory pledge to start anew and not automatically reinstate previous Bills before Parliament gave opponents of the prostitution legislation hope. "In the unlikely event, the Bill returned unchanged then I would oppose it as you cannot have worked with as many victims of sexual abuse as I have and then conclude legal brothels are a good idea," Mr Goiran said.

Mr Abetz said the Government should send a delegation of MPs to Sweden, where laws targeting the clients of prostitutes have greatly curtailed the business.

"Wherever it has been legalised in the world it leads to a mushrooming of the sex industry and generally creates a massive problem of trafficking in women," he said.

The Barnett Government's planned changes were introduced with much gusto to Parliament two years ago by former attorney-general Christian Porter, who said it was time the Government made prostitution easier to police.

If passed the laws would allow brothel to operate in designated industrial areas, but they would be banned from residential areas.

Neither Mr Barnett, nor Attorney-General Michael Mischin - who said he supported the Porter Bill - would comment on the future of the prostitution Bill.

Mr Goiran, whom _The West Australian _contacted after an investigation into WA's sex industry, argues in an opinion piece today that licensing brothels would encourage organised crime and human trafficking.

"Attempting to regulate the prostitution industry relies on the naive expectation that proved non-law abiding citizens will suddenly become law-abiding ones overnight," he wrote.

WA's peak medical body, the Australian Medical Association, said prostitution was a health issue that needed regulation.

"We cannot allow it to go on unregulated," AMA State president Richard Choong said. "We cannot have a good public health system when the sex industry is unregulated."

The West Australian

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