19 October 2021: 4 MP’s Suspended

Four MP’s in Victoria’s Upper House were just suspended for failing to comply with new vaccine mandate requirements. What does this mean for the prospect of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 obtaining enough votes in the Upper House?

First, what does the suspension mean? Some argue that preventing elected MP’s from voting is an anti-democratic move, and one legal scholar questions the constitutionality of the suspensions. The four suspended MP’s, including the two Liberal Democrat crossbenchers, will still be able to participate in parliament remotely and ask questions as normal. However, they will not be permitted to vote on legislation. Unless the Victorian Government amends the suspension motion, or the suspended MP’s decide to comply with the requirement, the suspension expires on the second sitting day of parliament in February 2022. 

The four suspended MP’s represent 10% of the 40 Upper House MP’s. With the absence of independent Adem Somyurek as well as the absence of the four suspended MP’s, the government needs a majority of votes out of 35 votes in total. This should make it easier for any government bill to pass.

15 June 2020: Adem Somyurek Sacked

Victoria’s Minister for Local Government is sacked from Cabinet by the Victorian Premier after a number of serious allegations aired on a 60 Minutes television show. 

Adem Somyurek was a significant figure in Labor’s factions; he led the right faction. Any large political party or organisation is bound to develop smaller factions or sub groups, and both major political parties are known for such divisions. Malcolm Turnbull’s recently published memoir very directly identified the hostility splitting his own party along ideological lines. 

Adem Somyurek represented the Minister for Consumer Affairs in the Upper House and was therefore responsible for answering questions relating to sex industry licensing and registration. In 2019, when Labor tabled a bill to amend consumer laws (including sex work laws), Adem Somyurek read in the bill in the Upper House.

These serious allegations consuming the Victorian government are clearly not good for Victorian Labor, but what will be the consequences for Victorian sex workers? The answer most likely lies with the role that Marlene Kairouz plays in any pending investigations. 

Fiona Patten’s Sex Work Review is designed to help construct a sex work decriminalisation bill that will work for Victoria in 2020 and beyond. Whoever replaces Adem Somyurek to become Marlene Kairouz’s new representative in the Upper House will play an important role in the passage of any Bill in the Upper House. Labor doesn’t have a majority in the Upper House and it is well recognised that any sex work decrim bill is likely to experience blockage in the Upper House, should there be resistance.