Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Human Trafficking

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:36): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Attorney-General on the subject of trafficking.

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Trafficking. I know it's not actually a state issue.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: A question was asked of you in the previous sitting week in this place. It pointed to an Advertiser report of 29 July this year of a blitz on brothels across Australia, which uncovered women who had been trafficked and, I assume, were potentially in sexual servitude. I note that the questioner then asked you whether, under the Summary Offences Act of our state, the maximum penalty for keeping or managing a brothel—for a first offence it being $1,250 or three months' imprisonment or, for a subsequent offence, it being $2,500 or six months' imprisonment—was strong enough to address trafficking.

I note that, under the Criminal Code Amendment (Trafficking in Persons) Act 2005, which is now contained within the Criminal Code Act 1995, in fact, under sections 270 and 271, trafficking brings with it terms of imprisonment of 12 years, 20 years or 25 years. My questions to the Attorney-General are: do you understand the difference in law between prostitution and trafficking, and is the Summary Offences Act ever applied in cases of trafficking, or is it indeed the Criminal Code Amendment (Trafficking in Persons) Act or the Criminal Code Act of the commonwealth?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:38): I thank the honourable member for her question. She makes a very good point: the Summary Offences Act is not meant to regulate or deter trafficking of people over international borders. That, of course, is done through the commonwealth criminal code.

I think the honourable member is right: when that question was put in this chamber, I think it confused two very, very different things. That is, the Summary Offences Act has it on the statute book, and my personal view is that I don't think it should have it on the statute book as an offence in terms of sex work. People would know that it's my personal view that we should reform and decriminalise sex work in South Australia.

I think the questioner, when the question was asked, was confusing what is a summary offence, albeit one that I think doesn't belong on our statute book, with something very, very different, and that is the offence of trafficking humans.

That can apply to any industry. There are many instances of successful prosecutions of people being trafficked across international borders for a whole range of reasons and to work in a whole range of industries. So in answer to your question, yes, I do understand the difference but I think, unfortunately, there was some confusion when that was asked last time.