- Monday, 13 August 2012 08:11
Article Read: 733
Queensland's attorney-general has once again shown he is a realist when it comes to Queensland law. Jarrod Bleijie announced at the weekend that he will support an appeal against a ruling that a motel discriminated against a sex worker by refusing her a room.
A judgement brought down by the Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal last week could have considerable ramifications for the accommodation industry.
The tribunal ruled Evan and Joan Hartley, the owners of the Drovers Rest Motel in the mining town of Moranbah, contravened the Anti-Discrimination Act when they banned a sex worker from staying at their property.
The Gold Coast-based prostitute had used the motel 17 times in two years until the Hartleys found she was bringing clients to her room, resulting in the refusal to rent her a room. The prostitute lost an anti-discrimination case last year but appealed last month.
A hearing date is yet to be set to decide on compensation for the sex worker who is seeking $30,000 from the motel for lost earnings.
The ruling could have wide implications in Queensland where the mining boom is seeing a huge increase in the number of sex workers in regional towns.
Mr Bleijie also announced he would support an appeal against a separate Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruling that the government pay a victim of crime more than $20,000 to travel overseas for spiritual healing treatment.
Mr Bleijie said he wanted to overturn the two recent QCAT decisions. He said he had real concerns about the ruling that owners of the motel breached the Anti-Discrimination Act by denying the legal sex worker a room.
Mr Bleijie issued a statement that stressed, "The government stands on the side of business owners and supports their ability to make decisions about what does or does not occur on their premises. If a conflict exists between the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 and the Liquor Act 1992, the government will change the laws to ensure this inconsistency is resolved.
"This will also give certainty to our business owners that they are in control of their establishments. In the interim, I have requested immediate advice from Crown Law about whether I can intervene in any appeal the motel owner may wish to make or appeal the decision directly."
Mr Bleijie said he not allow Queensland taxpayers to pay for a person to travel overseas to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I understand the importance of Ms Schaefer's rehabilitation as a victim of crime; however, it is inconceivable to suggest treatment can't be found here in Queensland. QCAT ordered the government to pay Ms Schaefer $20,480 which included $4,000 for a 35-day treatment program and $16,480 for airfares," Mr Bleijie said in the statement.
He had decided to support the appeal already filed by Victims Assist Queensland.
The Accommodation Association of Australia has welcomed Mr Bleijie's intervention. "The accommodation industry welcomes the announcement from the Queensland government that it is supportive of the ability of business owners to make decisions about what does or does not occur on their premises following the anti-discrimination judgment relating to a sex worker staying in a motel which has been handed down by QCAT.
"Operators of accommodation businesses can feel much more certain about their rights as a direct result of this announcement, which includes a pledge by the Government to explore legislative change and/or an appeal of this decision. It is further confirmation that premier Campbell Newman and his government have a strong interest in tourism and that they are keen to ensure that the Queensland tourism experience is enriched by staying in accommodation establishments across the state.
"It remains the industry's position that the decision about who is able to stay in tourism accommodation businesses in Australia should lie with the owner, operator, licensee or manager of the business."