Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley is calling for a “pause” on new strip clubs.
The Opposition’s highest-ranking female politician has flagged concern over women’s safety and the role of strip clubs in shaping young men’s attitudes towards women.
Australia’s peak body for sex workers has accused Ley of adding to the “stigma” and “discrimination” experienced by strip club performers.
Sussan Ley is the Deputy Opposition leader and the Shadow Minister for Women. Ley has objected to a proposed club called ‘Emberz’ in the town of Albury, NSW, in her electorate.
Emberz’ operator says it plans to run “an adult entertainment venue” featuring “striptease or exotic dance”.
Strip clubs need local council approval before they can open. A local petition opposing the council’s pending approval of the club has more than 800 signatures.
Ley said she wants to stop new strip clubs opening up across Australia, over concerns they “degrade women” and put them at risk. However, the Liberal MP is not calling for existing strip clubs to close.
Ley added: “This is not about judging the choices of women — I respect the right of women to engage in this work, but it must be on their own terms, and they must be in full control of their circumstances and decisions.”
Ley said there needs to be a “national conversation” around the impact of strip clubs on male attitudes.
“As a society, we should ask ourselves why going to a strip club is considered part of the coming of age for young men, because I think we can all aim much higher than that,” she said.
Australia’s peak body for sex workers, the Scarlet Alliance, said: “It is unfortunate to see once again people trying to blame the sex industry for society’s attitudes towards women based on assumption and stigma.”
“This singling out of strip clubs and the sex industry promotes stigma and discrimination against sex workers, and blames us for the attitudes and behaviour of men,” the Alliance said.