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Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Page: 1071


Senator FEENEY (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary for Defence) (11:29): Can I begin by indicating on behalf of the government that we will not be supporting Senator Madigan's amendment. Given the increase in the number of the victims that have been identified in other industries, one of the primary purposes of the bill is to expand the application of the existing offences beyond the sex industry. As such, the bill removes the existing offences of sexual servitude and conducting a business involving sexual servitude, and replaces them with offences of servitude and conducting a business involving servitude.

The broader offences in the bill will continue to apply to a person who is exploited in the sex industry, but they will also be able to be utilised by law enforcement authorities who are investigating instances of exploitation in other industries. We also note that the penalties outlined in Senator Madigan's proposed amendments are the same as those proposed for the broader offence in the bill. We also note that Senator Madigan's proposal does not aim to retain or reinsert the existing offence of deceptive recruiting for sexual services, which will be similarly broadened by the bill to an offence of deceptive recruiting applicable regardless of industry.

In addition, we note that proposed subsection 270.4A(2) of Senator Madigan's proposed definition of sexual servitude refers to 'coercion, force or threat' being used against a victim to gain their compliance, which is inconsistent with the remainder of the bill, which seeks to implement the broader concept of coercion, threat or deception. As the proposed amendments to the bill would not have any practical effect, our view is that there is not any policy justification for accepting the senator's amendments, which, in the government's view, would add unnecessary length and complexity to the statute book.

Given the increase in the number of victims that have been identified in industries other than the sex industry—such as hospitality, to name but one—one of the primary purposes of this bill is to expand the application of the existing offences beyond the sex industry. This is especially important in order to ensure that investigators and prosecutors have the most appropriate range of offences available to them where the circumstances of a matter do not amount to slavery, but nonetheless demonstrate significant inappropriate conduct. As such, the bill removes the existing offences of sexual servitude and conducting a business involving sexual servitude, and replaces them with offences of servitude and conducting a business involving servitude. The broader offences in the bill will continue to apply to a person who is exploited in the sex industry, but, as I have said, are also able to be used by law enforcement authorities regarding instances of exploitation in other industries.

As sexual servitude is already covered by the bill, we believe that the senator's amendment does not add anything to the government's legislation, and, as I have already indicated, the government will not be supporting the amendment.