5 December 2020: The Coalition of Independent Women

Fiona Patten and independent MP Ali Cupper have just announced their “coalition of independent women”. What will this mean for the prospects of sex work decriminalisation in Victoria?

Long time sex industry lobbyist Fiona Patten has been clear about her support of the decriminalisation of sex work. Ali Cupper holds the regional seat of Mildura, not a part of Victoria associated with a strong sex workers’ rights movement. Geographically speaking, Mildura is about as far away from Melbourne as you can get: 542km by road from the CBD. 

The Victorian Government, currently held by Labor, has a clear majority in the Lower House and can easily pass legislation there, despite resistance from the Opposition. However, in the Upper House, Labor only has 17 of the 40 seats and needs additional votes to pass legislation. Decriminalisation in Victoria requires new law, a bill, and requires a majority vote in both houses of parliament. If Fiona Patten can convince Ali Cupper to vote for sex work decriminalisation, it means one additional guaranteed ‘yes’ vote in the Upper House.

Reflecting the conservative nature of her electorate, Ms Cupper said “[Fiona Patten’s] Reason [Party] takes the best conservative ideas and the best progressive ideas and melds them together.”

The ABC’s political reporter Richard Willingham covered this story on 4 December, 2020.