Senate debates

Wednesday, 16 June 2021


Online Safety Bill 2021, Online Safety (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Bill 2021; Second Reading

7:15 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

Oh, that's harsh! Alright. This legislation has been subjected to extraordinarily expedited processes, with only weeks offered to make submissions when the bill was presented in a draft form and a mere two-week inquiry by the environment and communications committee. At both stages, committee members made clear that there was not enough time to make detailed submissions to address the complex elements of the legislation. The result of this extraordinarily unjustified speed with which this legislation has been rammed through is that it has the potential to pose profound unintended consequences among segments of our community.

Let me just say this very clearly: sex workers in this country are some of the most underrepresented workers in our community. They are not subject to many of the protections that are available to others that work in other industries. This absence of protection is because of the inability of legislatures like this one—and the unwillingness of legislatures such as this one—to grapple with the complexities of the work and the protections that they require. Regardless of the fact that this chamber seems to be preparing itself to pass a piece of legislation which may have catastrophic impacts on the ability of sex workers to work, let me say this very, very clearly: sex work is work. Sex workers are workers and they deserve proper protections to do their work and they should not be impinged in doing that work.

This bill, because it has been rushed through, because it has not been subject to the appropriate scrutiny, contains many provisions which may well negatively impact the ability of a sex worker to work, not least of which is the importation of definitions of classified material straight from the classification codes which we know are outdated and the empowering of the relevant administrative body, in this case, the eSafety Commissioner, to be able to make moralistic judgements which may negatively affect the ability of a sex worker to do their job. This is a very serious piece of legislation in relation to sex workers and many organisations, from the Scarlet Alliance to Men at Work and many other organisations, attempted to submit in the brief period that they were given in relation to these concerns, and yet none of them have been properly addressed in the course of the legislation.

There are also elements of this bill which will have the potential to negatively impact the trans community; my colleague Senator Rice will speak to that in great detail, I am sure. Additionally there are elements of this legislation which may potentially be used to prevent the publication of imagery and content online.

Debate interrupted.


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