Democratic Labour Party Victoria - Score 'Terrible'

On 26 November 2022, Victorians will vote in a state election. The Democratic Labour Party is registered as a political party to contest this election.

We give the Democratic Labour Party a ‘Terrible’ rating when it comes to sex workers’ rights. Why?

The Positives

The Democratic Labour Party has two candidates, both who served this term of parliament (2018 – 2022) under other political parties. Bernie Finn is currently a member of parliament, and had been with the Liberal Party until early 2022 when he was dumped for his extreme anti-abortion views. Adem Somyurek is also currently a member of parliament and had been with the Labor Party until 2020 when he was dumped following revelations Mr Somyurek was at the centre of a branch stacking scandal.

In this term of parliament (2018 – 2022) Mr Finn:

  • refrained from voting at all on the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021, despite most of the members of his party at the time voting ‘no’.1

The Negatives

  • Mr Finn was only one of two members who refrained from voting on a bill to introduce new laws which classify the non-payment of sex work service fees as sexual assault or rape.2
  • Mr Finn’s party has no policy relating to sex work.3
  • In parliament, Mr Finn’s speech about the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic), was appalling.4

‘But as I say, there are some women, I am sure, I have no doubt, who enjoy the sex work, who enjoy the sex involvement— Well, having sex. They probably enjoy that too.’

‘When you say [to a little girl], ‘What do you want to do?’ and….this profession [is] legitimised to the point where little girls will say, ‘I want to grow up to be a prostitute’. I think that would be very sad indeed.’

Well, that mystifies me. To anybody who asks why we are doing this and why our priorities are the way they are, because I always thought, from listening to many women activists over the years, that prostitution was in fact exploitation of women.’

Instead of saying, ‘Go and sell your body on the streets’ or ‘Go and sell your body in a brothel’ or whatever, we could actually help them [the sex workers].’

Instead we have legislation which is just going to basically legalise prostitution on every street corner.’

‘You would not want them [sex work clients] coming to your own home or indeed to a residence nearby—you would not want them there—and if we have widespread prostitution, brothels, in residential areas, then we are going to have big trouble for a lot of people.’

‘The question is: is this legislation necessary? I do not think so.’

Democratic Labour Party
Bernie Finn delivered an incredibly anti-sex work speech

Authorised by Sex Work Law Reform Victoria Inc., 79-81 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182

1. Bernie Finn was present in Parliament on the day of the final vote on the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic), and he spoke at length in opposition to the bill. However, he chose to step out of the chamber and refrain from voting on this particular bill. At the time of this vote, Bernie Finn was with the Liberal Party. Most of the members of the Liberal Party present in Parliament that day voted ‘no’ on the bill. See page 267 of Hansard for the Legislative Council of the Victorian Parliament on 10 February 2022.

At the time of this vote Bernie Finn was with the Liberal Party. Three months later he was expelled from the party for his anti-abortion comments.

2. On 30 August 2022, Bernie Finn was present in parliament, but chose to refrain from voting on the Justice Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Bill 2022 (Vic). The only other member present in parliament that day who also refrained from voting on this bill was Craig Ondarchie. Clause 5 of the bill redefines sexual consent so that the non-payment of sexual service fees will be classified as rape or sexual assault. To see the voting record on this bill, see page 3139 of Hansard for 30 August 2022 in the Legislative Council.

3. See Democratic Labour Party policies.

4. Bernie Finn delivered the most anti-sex work speech of any member of parliament on the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic). See pages 222-225 of Hansard of the Legislative Council of the Victorian Parliament on 10 February 2022.

This webpage is provided as a guide to help inform voters about how political parties and candidates have performed when it comes to sex workers’ rights. 

Sex Work Law Reform Victoria is not affiliated with any political party, candidate, councillor or local government. Sex Work Law Reform Victoria Inc. does not endorse or campaign for any political party or candidate. We believe all political parties can potentially work towards enhancing sex workers’ rights and we encourage all political parties to take an ongoing interest in sex workers’ rights. We have never donated to a political party, candidate, councillor or local government. We have never received money from any political parties, candidates, councillors or local governments. We have never applied for or received grants from the Victorian Government or any local government. We are a registered not-for-profit organisation.

We are not a registered charity.

We understand sex workers have a wide range of views about politics and we respect diversity of views.

© Sex Work Law Reform Victoria 2022

Last updated: 14 November 2022