The mining boom has led to a boom of another kind – sex
workers flying in to do business with lonely miners. The
prostitutes have to stay somewhere to carry out their work, so they
book into motels.
Prostitution is not a crime, and sex workers are perfectly
within the law to ply their trade. But motel owners are also within
the law to refuse someone a room if they consider them to be unruly
or disturbing other guests.
The clash was inevitable. It happened in the Queensland town of
Moranbah where thousands of mine workers fly in and out each week.
A Gold Coast woman, known only as GK, stayed at a motel 17 times
before the owner twigged she was bringing clients to her room.
They banned her from their motel. But GK sued the motel owners
on the grounds her work is legal, and banning her breached
anti-discrimination laws. Her lawyer argued in the Queensland Civil
and Administrative Tribunal that she was carrying on a legal
business in her motel room, just like any other travelling business
person. The lawyer argued the fact GK used the bed for her work
rather than the desk was irrelevant.
She won the case, and hotel owners around Australia
Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive Richard
Munro said: "Sex work isn't illegal and as long as it
doesn't disturb other guests I don't think many people have
a problem. The problem is when someone sets up a business and
operates it within another business."
Maybe so, but Queensland's anti-discrimination laws were
initially prompted by motel owners refusing rooms to Aboriginals,
not by people working from their room.
The Scarlet Alliance, representing sex workers, said the
decision showed systemic discrimination against sex workers is not
It was an interesting legal conundrum: One law supported hotel
owners while the Anti-Discrimination Act backed the travelling
So this month the Queensland government changed the
Anti-Discrimination Act to make it legal for hotel and motel owners
in Queensland to discriminate and to deny accommodation to sex
Ironically, it's still OK if a man rents a room and brings
in a call girl.
The Courier Mail reports women seeking motel rooms in mining
towns are now being asked to sign statements promising they
won't "offer goods and services for sale" from their
room. Not so the men.
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