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Prostitution Licensing Authority chairman Walter Tutt said the proliferation of "massage parlours" was hurting the licensed brothel sector. Illegal prostitution at massage parlours is having an impact on Queensland's legal industry. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams. Mr Tutt said for the foreseeable future, the growth in the licensed brothel sector would be constrained and the number of brothels in Queensland would probably stay at the current levels. Most prostitution in Queensland occurred outside the licensed sector, which Mr Tutt said meant they avoided strict regulations that scrutinised management, sexual health and sex worker safety.
That can either be legal - where a sole operator sex worker works from a property or makes out-calls - or illegally, such as in massage parlours or escort agencies. At the end of June, just 20 licensed brothels were operating in Queensland, mostly in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The Townsville brothel, Bluebirds on Carmel, closed in December and no new brothels opened in Queensland in Vast areas of Queensland, including major cities and provincial towns, such as Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton, are not serviced by licensed brothels.
Mr Tutt said it defied common sense that there was no need for "such services" in many of those areas. Stagnant wages and the associated impact on discretionary spending, the return on investment compared with other businesses, the regulatory framework and hook-up apps were also contributing to the size of the legal brothel sector, the PLA said.
Silks on Upton brothel licensee Jenny Rogers said the unregulated "massage parlours" were taking business but they were also unsafe for workers and clients. Ms Rogers called for changes to the industry, including allowing brothels to make out-calls where sex workers would have a driver for security, increasing the number of rooms allowed from five and registering massage parlours. In its report, the PLA said it would continue to work with police over industry concerns about illegal prostitution.
The PLA refused two brothel licence applications in the past year - at Rocklea and on the Sunshine Coast - because the applicants were deemed "not suitable" under the Prostitution Act. There were compliance activities held during the year and 75 corrective actions required, but Mr Tutt said licensees were overwhelmingly committed to upholding high standards.