Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Bronwyn Williams

The Greens’ Kathleen Maltzahn – Conviction, But No Courage … ?

*Pic: of Kathleen Maltzahn …

Tasmanians concerned about sexploitation and justice for women should be looking at responses to the Victorian Liberal Party’s recent state conference motion in support of introduction of Nordic Model laws on prostitution. In particular, the response by Greens long time pro-Nordic Model candidate, Kathleen Maltzhan*, has come as a shock to abolitionists across the country.

On 7 May, Maltzahn announced she will not support the Victorian Liberals’ push for Nordic Model laws on prostitution, in a move that is lamentable, but unsurprising in this era of blatant political expediency.

Maltzahn has in the past been a major campaigner in the movement to abolish prostitution in Australia – her backflip on this important issue for women exposes the price many will pay for the sake of power. Some abolitionists say she had little choice due to pressures from within the Greens Party, especially from federal party leader Richard di Natalie.

Others are less understanding, especially those who advocate for broad public education on the Nordic Model. Preaching to the converted, and excusing an about face like Maltzahn’s does nothing to promote a coherent, organised movement towards the abolition of prostitution.

During her second election campaign, in an interview with Jane Gilmore for the ABC in 2014, Maltzahn stated she would vote in favour of the Nordic Model if the opportunity arose. ‘I would vote with my conscience which would put me in conflict with my party’, she said.

Maltzahn secured Greens pre-selection (for the third time) for the seat of Richmond in this year’s Victorian state election, despite being a long-time opponent of the full decriminalisation of prostitution – a policy formally supported by the Greens. After significant opposition to her pre-selection within the Greens, and external criticism levelled at her abolitionist stance by the sex trade lobby, Maltzahn has abandoned her principles, and a big chunk of her life’s work as the founder of Project Respect.

Last week, she issued a formal statement that she would not support any Nordic Model legislation introduced by the Liberal Party, or indeed, by any member of the Victorian parliament. Neither will she abstain from voting. She will actively vote against such legislation, along Greens Party lines, because, she says, she opposes the Liberal Party’s position on other issues – abortion, gay rights, et cetera – and the party is ‘anti-women’.

Many in the abolitionist movement work with Christians, people of other faiths and conservative groups to support the introduction of Nordic Model laws but this remains a key point of contention that continues to divide some abolitionists across the globe.

Surely it is better to work with people who support abolitionist aims for prostitution, and at the same time maintain public opposition to policies that are unacceptable. How can we get productive, progressive changes to the laws regulating prostitution if we do not start negotiating with people who share some of our views?

The mechanisms of party policy within the Greens Party are apparently no less corruptible than for any other party. The lack of capacity for a conscience vote on issues such as prostitution is regrettable.

Clearly Maltzahn is not prepared to sacrifice her political aspirations and has decided to toe the party line, to the detriment of her personal ethics. It takes real courage to stick to your convictions in the face of potential eviction from a party to which you have been loyal for many years. Sadly, Maltzahn’s conviction has faltered spectacularly.

Perhaps she needs to be reminded that many Greens parties throughout the world support Nordic Model laws and have worked collaboratively with politicians and members of other parties to secure their introduction.

Disappointing doesn’t even begin to describe this change of direction, which will no doubt cost Maltzahn votes at the coming state election.

*Bronwyn Williams is a retired lawyer and social worker.

*Isla MacGregor previously worked as a researcher and representative for the Nordic Model Australia Coalition and is a supporter of the Coalition Against Trafficking and Women. Isla works in the global abolitionist movement against the sex trade and commodification of children and women. Laws that tackle the demand side of the sex trade are gradually being implemented throughout Europe and are increasingly being understood as best human rights practise.

*Kathleen Maltzhan (born 19 September 1966) is an Australian author and campaigner against prostitution and trafficking. She is a former councillor for the City of Yarra, and was the Greens candidate for the state seat of Richmond in the 2010 and 2014 Victorian state elections. Full bio: Wikipedia HERE

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Lyle Allan

    May 27, 2018 at 3:34 am

    A certain blog in Victoria contained a reference to a lady who was alleged to work at the Daily Planet, a house of ill repute formerly located in the up-market Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick. It was closed down recently. It was also listed on the stock exchange, but those who bought shares in it lost all their money if they didn’t sell early.

    The lady in question attended a Liberal Party fundraiser. A good friend of mine, a member of the Liberal Party, complained about the reference to this lady in that blog. Liberal ladies do not work at those places. Only Labor and Greens women do.


  2. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    May 25, 2018 at 4:59 am

    Thanks for that, Isla and Bronwyn.

    It seems to me that the Greens are hanging themselves on their own libertarian petard, just as some in the Liberal party people are showing leadership in dealing with the malfeasant use of liberty.

    This is an unusual sight and I am still rubbing my eyes with near disbelief, but not quite …

    Liberty, like anything else, has a dark side, particularly if it has had all the disciplines and self control mechanisms torn out by a combination of protractedly reinforced commercial and social ideological indulgence.

    Indulgence is a very seductive and damaging in the way it affects social attitudes and practice. It eventually wrecks anything it battens onto, and turns it into chaotic mush.

    The Greens simply cannot tell the difference between liberty and indulgence, and this matter of decriminalisation of prostitution, and failing to resolutely oppose a social evil, is a classic case in point.

    The pimps and the panderers have hijacked the language of liberation and made suckers out of its Green acolytes.

    On the other hand, while there are legions of equally blithe and irresponsible economic libertarians on the other side of politics, their social politics haven’t been quite so hijacked by naked social laissez-faireism.

    I wouldn’t want to overstate this after what we have been seeing coming out of the boardrooms of finance capital recently, but some of the more old fashioned conservatives still have a bit of a twinge of conscience, occasionally, about things that do not affect their pocket books too much.

    There is a lingering, albeit attenuating nineteenth century sense of social responsibility and moral agency to do something about a very traditional social evil.

    Prostitution is an evil and a very nasty one, especially for women, not just as individuals, but as a whole class of people, who because of their gender, are always, even in the best of times and circumstance struggling to get respect, recognition of their worth and fair dealing against powerful social/gender undercurrents that would deny them this at every turn.

    Prostitution attracts not just customer low life, but the criminal classes that always accompany vice, because of the enormous wealth and collateral opportunity it creates in both the legitimate and underworld economy. The sex ‘industry’ (what a laugh) is a perfect cross over business for dirty and clean money. It always has been thus. It always will be.

    There are some very unpleasant fairies down at the bottom of the Greens’ ideological garden, and they are just as dark in their own way as the banksters, forest hackers and coal burners on the other side of the ideological creek.

  3. support end demand/Nordic/abolitionist approach

    May 21, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Re #14 … Yes, achieving human dignity for women girls and children is the key. It requires legal and cultural change

    #15 … Isla and Bronwyn are doing a great job as abolitionists .. as are all the women in NGOs and informed survivors such a Simone.

    It is always hard for rad fems to tackle the patriarchy, but success happens, eg how did women get the vote?

  4. Gail Anderson

    May 21, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    From the change in Isla’s bio from ‘works as ..” to ‘previously worked’ .. it looks like NorMAC operates the same way as political parties like the Greens do. Toe the line buddy or you’re out! And radfems claim they are against patriarchy?

    Fiona Patten and Jules Kym must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    Bronwyn and Isla – how do you expect radfems to know how to lobby the patriarchy anyway?

  5. Wendy Francis

    May 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    No woman is immune from the effect of prostitution as it brands all females as something that can be bought and sold.

    Gender equality cannot be reached while the practice of buying, selling and renting of female flesh is legally and culturally sanctioned. If we truly believe in gender equality and human dignity, we cannot at the same time support the concept that women can be bought, sold, and sexually exploited.

  6. Isla MacGregor

    May 21, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    5# … Yes, fortunately motions do not turn into law. Yes, motions often are quite inadequate or illogical in parts.

    Fortunately some abolitionists are in communication with Victorian Liberals advising them on drafting the much, much more important [b]policy[/b] document which would lead to a DRAFT Bill which no doubt would get wide circulation with stakeholders and within the Lib Party itself.

    The Parliamentary Liberal Party has not had any debate on the Vic Liberal’s motion and therefore at this stage has no position on it.

    A long way to go yet, and Kathleen Maltzahn knows this and she knows that will be a long time after the coming election. Kathleen also knows she can always change her mind if, and when, a good Bill is presented to Parliament.

    [b]When made public I look forward to reading results of abolitionist communications with the Vic Liberals and the DRAFT policy paper they provide to them.[/b]

  7. Joanna Pinkiewicz

    May 21, 2018 at 1:35 am

    #11 … Thank you for your explanation, Isla. This seems like a reason for her to withdraw her support for the Vic Liberal Party proposal.

    It’s interesting that in Sweden the laws were voted in by the Centre and the left, including the Greens, but were initially opposed by Liberals and the Christian groups who also wanted to criminalise selling.

    It is not a “Liberal or Christian agenda”, however I think it is a good thing that wider members of the community are supporting it. I think it is good to see that the conservatives are supporting this model, as long as it is adopted in whole. I think the success of this model lays in convincing the majority, and in working across the party rooms.

  8. Isla MacGregor

    May 20, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    [b]Right the wrongs[/b] is a new slogan being used in the abolitionist movement. It counters the sex worker front groups’ [i]rights not rescue[/i] and places front and centre what the real problems for girls and women in the sex trade are, namely male privilege and violence.

    Recently Change.org ran the pimp/porn/inc lobby petition against Maltzahn with the usual misinformation. This is how the propaganda machine of the sex trade lobby work – avoid the evidence base, don’t mention the elephant in the room, namely male violence, and go the person not the issues:

    [i]Maltzahn’s radical policy agenda is championed by far right elements within the Victorian Liberal party and supported by the Australian Christian Lobby.[/i]


  9. Tony Stone

    May 20, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    You can never stamp out prostitution. If any of you really knew anything about it, you’d understand the facts and not the PC feminazi drivel.

    The facts are that in most countries, probably over 90% are in prostitution willingly and because that’s where they want to be, and that includes male and female. Contrary to what the feminazi claim, there are probably as many male prostitutes as female, they just go under the radar and service both men and women.

    Sex is the most powerful biological driving force on the planet, and without it we wouldn’t exist, yet the feminazi seem desperate to destroy human relationships, which is perfect example of ideological insanity.

    All you can do with prostitution is provide safe and healthy working places with good support systems, and provide very heavy sentences for those who force others into it, abuse economically, or disadvantage some one in the business.

    A prostitutes’ on-line collective, where they could all discuss and vote on conditions and minimum pay rates for those registered, would go a long way to keeping the industry safe and organised.

  10. Isla MacGregor

    May 20, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    This article from [b]Nordic Model Now[/b] explains what sort of policy the Vic Liberals could develop:

    [i]We believe we must learn from the experience in other countries and introduce the Nordic Model as part of a raft of measures.
    1. The full decriminalisation of those who are prostituted

    The evidence suggests that the majority of women and children enter prostitution as a result of childhood abuse, poverty and misfortune, grooming, coercion, and/or betrayal, rather than as a free choice between a number of viable options. And the evidence is clear that prostitution is inherently violent and damages those in it, and that getting out of it is much harder than getting into it. A criminal record makes getting out even harder.

    We therefore call for the repeal of all the laws that target those who are prostituted and the clearing of their criminal records of any previous convictions for offences related to their own prostitution.
    2. High-quality services for those in prostitution

    We call for ring-fenced funding for high-quality services for those in prostitution. These must be non-judgemental and cover harm reduction as well as exiting support, including housing, legal advice, addiction services, long-term emotional and psychological support, education and training, and childcare.

    Because punters are almost entirely men, services for women should be female-only and services for men and transgendered people should be separate.
    3. Buying sex to be made a criminal offence

    We call for the purchase and attempted purchase of human beings for sex to be made a criminal offence, regardless of where in the world it takes place. We do not believe British men should be free to cause damage in other countries. As explained earlier, the aim is to change behaviour rather than to criminalise people. We recommend a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
    4. The procuring, pimping and sex trafficking legislation to be strengthened

    We believe that the UK’s pimping and sex trafficking legislation is not fit for purpose, and we call for it to be replaced with stronger legislation that recognises procuring, pimping and sex trafficking as the human rights abuses that they are, and for penalties that reflect this. The policing of these crimes must be fully resourced and prioritised.
    5. All the factors that drive people into prostitution to be addressed

    We do not accept prostitution as the answer for the poor and disadvantaged, for recent migrants, for single mothers, for women and children .. or indeed for anyone.

    We therefore call for a fairer and more equal society with a guaranteed minimum income for all; the elimination of the pay gap between women and men, better resources and support for parents and “looked after” children; an end to student fees and zero-hour contracts; and the tackling of all the other factors that trap people in poverty.
    6. A holistic approach

    Public information campaign

    To be effective, the Nordic Model must be accompanied by a widespread public information campaign like the one that accompanied the change in the smoking laws.

    Education programmes in schools

    That explain honestly the damage that prostitution causes.

    Training for police and others

    Experience in other countries has shown that for the Nordic Model to be effective, it needs to be accompanied by in-depth training for the police, judiciary, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and front-line workers in education, social services, local government, the NHS, etc.

    The law to be prioritised and coordinated nationally

    For the Nordic Model approach to be effective, it needs to be prioritised and implemented consistently across the country, otherwise pimps and punters will simply move to areas where it is not enforced. Similarly services for those who are prostituted must be coordinated nationally and not be left to the localism agenda.

    We do not accept that women and children should ever be for sale.[/i]

    More: https://nordicmodelnow.org/what-is-the-nordic-model/

  11. Isla MacGregor

    May 20, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    #6 and #7 … For more information on the evidence base that is leading to implementation of stop demand laws across Europe, Canada etc:


  12. end demand /abolitionist supporter

    May 20, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    The devil is in the detail, Simone.

    Yes, Bron and Isla are pointing the way to genuine policy reform along with end demand. They are Nordic model supporters

    How is the Liberal resolution deficient? How could it be improved?

    Do women stand to be empowered by the laws?

    My understanding is that genuine end demand /abolitionist/ Nordic model laws facilitate exit programs to help women leave the sex trade so that they can access income support, counselling/retraining, as well as housing and other support. The law is a tool for cultural change by criminalising the buyer, and also the apparatus/ “operational aspects”.

    Further explanation would be helpful regarding the Liberal agenda that Kathleen Maltzhan opposed.

    What would an ideal policy look like?

  13. JDN

    May 20, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    I’m not sure how, from a ideological standpoint, one can be pro abortion/’her body, her choice’ one can also be anti-prostitution.

    However I understand the need to help end sex trafficking. Unfortunately, moving the sex industry into an unregulated black market industry would be a poor way to go about things.

    The demand for sex is always going to exist, and there will always be people willing to supply or exploit that demand. At least regulated prostitution helps prevent illegal sex trafficking to some degree while still allowing a woman (or man) to make their own free choices (good or bad) on what they can do with their own body.

    Then you have to include the health and safety benefits to society from a regulated sex industry over a black market one.

    What of the women who are empowered by the legal sex industry? Is it the government’s place to tell them what they can and cannot do with their own body?

  14. Simone Watson

    May 20, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    I would vote against this resolution purely because it is not, in fact, the Nordic Model.

    Yes, the Greens are historically and inexcusably on the wrong side of history when it comes to abolition, but actual Nordic Model supporters would be too, if this resolution were to ever be made law. If she had made that point clear before issuing the statement it would have been helpful.

  15. Isla MacGregor

    May 20, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    #1 … Yes, it is very deep cultural change that we need.

    #2 … Thank you for your comments, Ted. The global sex trade depends on the maintenance of structural inequality for women. This is the moral and political core of the prostitution/sex trafficking debate.

  16. support abolition laws

    May 20, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Thank you Isla for your article.

    Yes, human rights for women, girls and boys really needs highlighting. Ending the cultural and historical right of men and boys to exploit the bodies of women and girls and boys who are “not them, but other” will best happen with legislative change as a lever.

    If only the Greens and Labor would wake up and face the fact that the pathways into a harmful trade are not the path of the privileged, like them.

    It is very disappointing to see articulate and privileged people of a certain social class within the Greens’ Party, and also Labor, ignore the evidence of the harm of prostitution, and also ignore the growing evidence as to how ending demand can be effective.

    The right of women and girls not to be exploited is not to be traded off by party politics played by a privileged elite.

    ‘End demand’ laws are consistent with state and territory plans to prevent and end all forms of violence against women and children. ‘End demand’ laws will also help to put a brake on trafficking of women and children.

    The attack on Matzham from the sex trade lobby, and abandonment of women’s interests by the Green hierarchy including that of leader Richard di Natale, leads me to question in whose interests do privileged people speak and act.

    It’s very disappointing of the Greens when they do well with policy reform on HECS, and raising the level of Newstart.

  17. Ted Mead

    May 20, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Some politicians see this issue as a moral football, but most others just want to duck for cover.

    I’m not well informed about the Nordic model approach, but it should be thoroughly investigated to evaluate its potential.

    Most politicians don’t have a moral spine, but I remember when there was a strong push to legalise prostitution in Queensland the then premier Wayne Goss came out and stated that he opposed prostitution in all forms, be it legal or not, because it was degrading to women.

    I admire him for his gutsy moral stance!

  18. phill Parsons

    May 20, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Engaging in sexual intercourse for money can be removed from the laws making it illegal, but its abolition is a different matter. That requires vast changes in social relations.

    Keeping exploitation of vulnerable people of all ages illegal, remains essential.

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