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A senior federal minister has savaged the Baillieu government for its failure to take action against state-licensed brothels implicated in alleged sex slavery, saying trafficked women should not be "left to rot". Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said the state should take immediate action to confront criminality in the sex industry.
The minister's call comes amid fresh revelations about the alleged involvement of Lin Gao — who is licensed by Victorian authorities to run a Richmond brothel — in an international sex trafficking syndicate. The Age has discovered that a phone-tapping investigation by Taiwanese police in recorded Ms Gao speaking with an alleged sex trafficking syndicate boss in Taiwan about obtaining fake identities. The pair also allegedly discussed how to use Australia's student visa program to bring prostitutes to Australia.
Last week, The Age reported that two federal police witnesses had, in statements tendered in August to the Melbourne Magistrates Court, named Ms Gao as a key figure in the syndicate's Melbourne and Sydney operations. The syndicate allegedly forced women to work as sex slaves in Melbourne and Sydney brothels in Michael O'Brien said: "In circumstances where Consumer Affairs Victoria obtains court-admissible evidence of brothel licensees or approved managers participating in serious or organised criminal activities, Consumer Affairs Victoria may apply to VCAT for an inquiry to determine if there are grounds for taking action against licensees.
However, Consumer Affairs Victoria will not jeopardise the ongoing investigations of other law enforcement agencies. Mr O'Connor, meanwhile, told The Age there was no excuse for the state government's inaction. It is not acceptable that women are treated in this way and are left to rot in premises that are supposedly awful. That is just entirely reprehensible and they should do something about it. He said it was unnecessary to wait for proposed laws introduced in State Parliament last week, because current laws gave the state the power to investigate and take action.
There is no point just introducing further legislation; why don't they first enforce the powers that exist. In , the then-director of Consumer Affairs took action in VCAT to shut a South Melbourne brothel when allegations were aired in the Melbourne Magistrates Court that a woman had kept three workers there as slaves.