MPs speak against brothel inquiry recommendations

MEMBERS of a parliamentary inquiry into NSW brothels have denounced its push to give police greater powers over sex workers.

Labor MPs Jo Haylen, Kathy Smith and independent Alex Greenwich are worried increased powers, especially to enter premises, could lead to prostitutes being exploited.

In a joint statement, they also rejected the inquiry's call for more regulation and a licensing scheme.

"We are concerned that increasing police powers, especially entry powers, could compromise the safety and privacy of sex workers, and ignores the historic links between police corruption and sex work as proven during the Wood Royal Commission," they said.

"We are also concerned that the report ignores the advice of leading health expert bodies."

The committee heard from health professionals including NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant, Aids Council of NSW and Kirby Institute NSW sexual health program head Professor Basil Donovan.

They all warned against establishing a licensing system.

"Further regulation could compromise the health and wellbeing of sex workers by pushing underground those who are not part of a newly-licensed environment, thereby limiting their access to services, as has been the case in Victoria and Queensland," the statement said.

"This government went to the last election promising to reduce red tape.

"They have broken this promise with government members recommending new levels of regulation which experts tell us could compromise the health and wellbeing of sex workers."

Ballina Shire Council told the inquiry a surge in fly-in, fly-out prostitutes operating from motels was causing problems in the region.

The council's environmental health manager Rod Willis called for the licensing system to be rolled out, and for any sex work advertisements to include the licensed prostitute's licence number.

He also called for mandatory criminal history checks to be carried out on any brothel proprietor before licences were issued.

"Ballina Shire Council has received a number of complaints and allegations alleging the involvement of organised crime and motorcycle gangs in the owning and operation of brothels in the Northern Rivers," Mr Willis said.