NSW Premier Nathan Rees must now know what it is like to be screwed from above with yesterday’s news dominated by the revelation that an illegal brothel sits on top of his electorate office.

There is a certain irony in all this for me. I resigned from my lobbying role with the Adult Business Association NSW after becoming frustrated with my attempts to negotiate with the government on bringing in stronger brothel laws.

I still act as media spokesman and assist them in closing down illegal brothels. There are ten times more illegal brothels in NSW than legal ones. I have been telling the government for the last two years about the problems regarding the illegal industry. They either didn’t believe me or weren’t interested. Now the leading citizen in the state has a grubby illegal brothel sharing his building.

Rees complained about the brothel to Blacktown Council in Sydney’s west about a month ago. Crikey understands that a brothel closure order was served on the owners of the business but they have defied the order and continued to trade. Surely this is a clear message to Rees and his new Planning Minister Kristina Keneally that the brothel laws need stiffening up?

If this wasn’t enough to get the government’s attention the Daily Telegraph on Saturday said a double homicide in Auburn of two Chinese women may be linked to the illegal brothel industry.

Rees said at his press conference yesterday that if there are commonsense improvements to the statute to be made then he will look closely at them. The first step he should take is to action the three recommendations made by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in August 2007. ICAC had recommended a review of the corruption risks of councils regulating brothels, a ban on advertising by illegal brothels, and a system to prevent unsuitable persons operating brothels. But they haven’t done a thing. Why?

The Commissioner Jerrold Cripps QC made thirteen recommendations in his report on the regulation of brothels in Parramatta Council, ten of which went to the Council and three to the government. Parramatta Council has implemented every one while the three referred to Ms Keneally and the Attorney-General John Hatzistergos below have not been taken up.

RECOMMENDATION 1: It is recommended that the Minister for Planning and the Attorney General commission a review of the corruption risks attached to the regulation of brothels by local councils, and develop an appropriate strategy to deal with those risks.

RECOMMENDATION 2: It is recommended that the Minister for Planning and the Attorney General give consideration to adopting a system to prevent unsuitable persons operating brothels.

RECOMMENDATION 3: It is recommended that the Minister for Planning and Attorney General introduce legislation to require s-x industry advertisements to show the relevant development approval number. If the business does not require consent, the advertisement should be required to show an exemption number issued by the local council.

Peter Fray

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