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WA's brothel madams and owners have welcomed the State Government's attempt to licence and limit the industry, but fear the bid to individually register prostitutes will drive workers underground. Donna McGuirk, 35, owner and madam at Club in North Perth, supported plans to introduce licences, claiming it could be developed to ensure standards such as safe sex. But Ms McGuirk, who got into the industry after dropping out of a Curtin University commerce degree and befriending some escorts, said moves to register workers with a central agency would backfire.
Ms McGuirk was also wary of the State Government's plan for compulsory health checks, claiming similar moves in Singaporean brothels had led to increased sex assaults on prostitutes. MacKenzie's madam Beverly Clarke welcomed the move to set up no-go zones in the suburbs, even though it would mean her high profile brothel, formerly known as Langtrees, was expected to be forced out of Burswood.
Ms Clarke, 55, said she would comply if forced from Burswood Road, which is in an area zoned for residential and office use. Ms Clarke, who started as an accountant at Langtrees as it was known when run by business partner Maryanne Kenworthy, said small operators had undermined health and safety standards and profits.
Ms Clarke supported plans for compulsory health and blood checks but was opposed to State Governments bid to enforce central registration and possible ID cards, claiming it would stigmatise girls. Kalgoorlie madam and grandmother-of-three Bruna Meyers, 60, was opposed to central registration for workers, but welcomed plans for a licensing system.
She said it could be used to crack down on those who advertised unsafe sex, which was currently illegal but not closely policed. Mrs Meyers, who started her career running child-care centres, said authorities had long ignored her complaints about five brothels which employed tax and welfare cheats, and illegal immigrants who were rotated monthly. She said no one knew whether the workers were properly paid or treated at these brothels, because many did not speak English.