Rob Ruminski, Australian Sex Party volunteer, on behalf of Fiona Patten, Robbie Swan, Christian Vega and The Australian Sex Party, writes: Re. “Rundle: is the sex industry getting bang for its buck?” (Monday, item 11). The following is a refutation of claims and representations made in Guy Rundle’s article.
“[The Sex Party is] an outgrowth of the Eros Foundation, the sex industry lobby group, and it is less keen on the pure expression of human freedom than it is in pushing for a particular regulatory regime that benefits the legal sex industry. It has a bunch of policies about drug decriminalisation, internet non-censorship, etc, but its main game is to enforce a strict line between the legal and non-legal sex trade, to the benefit of the former.”
The Victorian branch of the Australian Sex Party’s policy on sex work is very clear. The ASP advocates for decriminalisation of sex work, and does not support the current legal/regulatory regime. The policy can be found here.
While the Victorian Party’s policy has not yet been ratified federally (an administrative oversight), it has been ratified in NSW as well. This is the approach that has been advocated at every level of the party in every instance. This is also the only policy on sex work that exists at any level of the party. We would challenge Rundle to produce evidence to the contrary.
As to the claims regarding associations between Eros and the brothel industry, this is patently untrue. According to Robbie Swan:
“The Eros Association stopped taking brothel owners as members over a decade ago when it became the adult ‘retail’ association. As a result we now only have one brothel in Victoria as an associate member on a fee of $590 per year. The only other brothel to have supported the Sex Party with a donation of $500 was The Boardroom of Melbourne, a couple of years ago. Mr. Rundle’s suggestion that the Victorian brothel owners are big supporters of the Eros Association is demonstrably untrue. Rundle appears ignorant of the fact that the legal Victorian brothels have their own industry association anyway. The annual returns of both the Eros Association (an incorporated not for profit adult industry association) and The S-x Party (a registered political party) are on the public record.”
“Thus ASP frequently finds itself at loggerheads with sex-worker rep groups such as the Scarlet Alliance, which opposes the strict enforcement of a legal/non-legal distinction on the grounds that it punishes women, men, and intersex people, who for whatever reason find themselves working the wild side. Furthermore, it enforces a simple and false opposition — that legal is safe.”
Also false. Rundle again misrepresents ASP sex work policy, as well as our relationship with Scarlet Alliance and other sex worker advocacy groups. This isn’t surprising as he didn’t contact us, nor to our knowledge did he contact anyone from SA.
The ASP and Scarlet Alliance have a strong history of working together. Up to half a dozen of our candidates nationally have also been Scarlet Committee members and representatives. These affiliations have generally been publicised in each instance that these candidates have run for the ASP. It’s also worth noting that Christian Vega — who in addition to being an ASP candidate is also a sex worker and has worked with a multitude of sex worker organisations including Scarlet, RhED and Vixen — wrote the ASP policy on sex work.
“The Greens, as their website makes clear, believe in drug decriminalisation (though not the full legalisation ASP favour).”
Rundle seems to have had enough time to check the Greens website, but not the ASP site. Sex Party policy has always called for the decriminalisation of drugs. Bizarrely, this statement also contradicts Rundle’s correct representation earlier in the article that the ASP has a decriminalisation policy.
“Who was the main objector to this suggested policy for the next Labor government — it was ta-da, the Australian Sex Party.”
Also untrue. The Victorian Recommendations into Trafficking and for Sex Work were actively and vocally opposed by a broad coalition of organisations, including Scarlet Alliance, Respect Inc. Queensland, Sex Workers Outreach Project, Sex Industry Network (SIN) South Australia, and over 10 international groups, most based in Asia. They were also opposed by the Sex Party. We cosigned the response penned by Scarlet Alliance, the organisation that Rundle contends we’re at loggerheads with.
In an interesting side note, at the time of the inquiry Ms Maddigan was on the board of Project Respect, a vociferously anti-sex work organisation founded by former Greens candidate Kathleen Maltzahn. One of the aims of Project Respect is to introduce the Swedish Model into Australia (as advocated by Rundle in his article). This approach is ubiquitously opposed by sex worker organisations both in Australia and worldwide — another basic fact that Rundle could have discovered with a minimum of research.
“What is the bet that part of the deal between the ALP and the ASP was that the notion of raids on legal brothels had been quietly dropped from any consideration by a future ALP government?”
Had Rundle bothered to ask, we could have disabused him of this particularly nasty accusation. I have personally been involved with all preference negotiations since the Federal election and can categorically say that no such deal has ever been made — not at Federal, not at State and not in Melbourne.
In fact, there was no quid pro quo at all in the arrangement beyond a straight preference swap for this by election. The Sex Party have never sought or been offered any policy concessions or future promises as part of any preference arrangement. We would challenge anyone with evidence to the contrary to come forward.
Rundle’s entire piece is a distortion, full of blatant untruths and gross misrepresentations. He offers no evidence to back up his wild speculations and conspiracy theories. Every falsehood as outlined above could have been addressed with an hour or two of basic research and a couple of phone calls.
As a true free speech party, we won’t be setting our lawyers Rundle any time soon. For the record, however, he has seriously impugned the good name of the Sex Party. Without even speaking to us or presenting any evidence, Rundle — and by extension Crikey — has accused us of entering into a criminal conspiracy to undermine both electoral law and police enforcement of existing laws relating to sex work. We would urge Rundle to make a minimum effort to get his facts straight next time, and would urge Crikey to seriously examine the editorial process that lead to the publication of this piece.