The Best and Worst Political Candidates

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Sex workers’ rights are human rights, and here in Victoria, some politicians and political candidates have a stronger track record on supporting sex workers than others. 

The political candidate you vote for on November 26 depends on where you live. If you live in the any of the areas below, your vote is particularly important for sex workers’ rights.

There are hundreds of candidates in this election, but here are the ones to look out for. This is particularly important for any voters in these areas (electorates) interested in sex workers’ rights.

We only assess those candidates with a political track record on sex workers’ rights and who we think stand out as being particularly good or particularly bad.

Ringwood District (One Excellent and One Terrible Candidate)

If you live here, you're voting in Ringwood District (click map to enlarge)

Source of map above: Victorian Electoral Commission

The Ringwood area (Ringwood, Mitcham, Nunawading) is the most significant when it comes to sex workers’ rights.  Of the declared candidates, one pro-sex work candidate is competing against a anti-sex work candidate. Other candidate have no voting record on sex work and are excluded from the coloured chart below. If you are registered to vote in the Ringwood area, the following candidates matter for sex workers’ rights.

Score: Excellent

Score: Terrible

Will Fowles

Labor Party

Cynthia Watson

Liberal Party

Ringwood District

Church of Latter Day Saints

Delivered an incredibly pro-sex worker speech

Cynthia Watson has conservative religious views

Legislative Assembly

Seat of Ringwood

Legislative Assembly

Seat of Ringwood

In the first two Youtube videos below on the right hand side of the page, Cynthia Watson can be seen at the far right, top corner of each Youtube screen.

Will Fowles’ pro-sex work speech

During a City of Boroondara council meeting, Cynthia Watson seeks to ask a former school principal about the impact of sex work on school children. The question was disallowed by the Mayor.

Cynthia Watson asks anti-sex work academic Dr Caroline Norma about human trafficking during a 2021 City of Boroondara council meeting. Dr Norma stumbles and struggles to answer the question.

Cynthia Watson speaks against supporting young LGBTIQ people

1. We give Will Fowles (Labor Party) an ‘excellent’ score on sex workers’ rights because he:

https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/daily-hansard/Assembly_2021/Legislative_Assembly_2021-10-28.pdf

  • voted to pass the Justice Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Bill 2022 (Vic) which classifies the non-payment of sexual service fees as sexual assault or rape. Mr Fowles also delivered a powerful pro-sex work speech focussing on sex workers’ rights, the banks, consent and sexual assault. See pages 3263-3265 of Hansard for the Legislative Assembly on 18 August 2022

https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/daily-hansard/Assembly_2022/Legislative_Assembly_2022-08-18.pdf

2. We give Cynthia Watson (Liberal Party) a ‘terrible’ score on sex workers’ rights because:

  • she voted on 6 September 2021 in favour of a council motion opposing the decriminalisation of sex work. See item 5.2 of the minutes of the City of Boroondara Urban Planning Delegated Committee Meeting on 6 September 2021

https://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/media/68236/download?inline

  • during discussion about sex work decriminalisation at a City of Boroondara council meeting, two questions she put to two anti-sex work speakers focused on human trafficking and the harm sex work could cause school  children. See Youtube video of City of Boroondara council meeting on 27 September 2021. Cynthia Watson can be seen in the far right, top corner of the screen. Go to the 34 minute 25 second mark and the 1 hour, 21 minute and 11 second mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD_5KuwZkiQ&t=4874s

Melbourne’s Western Suburbs (Three Terrible and One Good Candidate)

If you live here, you're voting in the Western Metropolitan Region (click map to enlarge)

Source of map above: Victorian Electoral Commission

If you live in the western suburbs of Melbourne, four of the declared candidates for the Western Metropolitican Region have a track record on sex workers’ rights. The other candidates have no track record on sex workers’ rights and are therefore not included in the table below.

Score: Good

Score: Terrible

Score: Terrible

Score: Terrible

Kaushaliya Vaghela

(New Democrats Party)

Moira Deeming

(Liberal Party)

Bernie Finn

(Democratic Labour Party)

Catherine Cumming

(Angry Victorians Party)

 

New Democrats Party

Far Right Christian TERF

Democratic Labour Party

Alternative Medicine Footscray

Moira Deeming is anti-trans and anti-sex work7

Finn delivered an anti-sex work speech

Dr Cumming has the worst voting record

Legislative Council

Western Metro Region

Legislative Council

Western Metro Region

Legislative Council

Western Metro Region

Legislative Council

Western Metro Region

‘I am a big fan of our current act, which is the Sex Work Act 1994. I am really happy with this act.’

Quote from Dr Catherine Cumming’s peculiar speech about the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic)

3. We give Kaushaliya Vaghela (New Democrats) a ‘good’ score on sex workers’ rights because she:

  • voted to pass the Justice Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Bill 2022 (Vic) which classifies the non-payment of sexual service fees as sexual assault or rape. See page 3139 of Hansard for 30 August 2022 in the Legislative Council.

Ms Vaghela did not attend parliament on the day of the final vote of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic) and so did note vote on this bill. Ms Vaghela had been a member of the Labor Party until March 2022, when she resigned from the party.

She is now with the registered political party, New Democrats.

4. We give Moira Deeming (Liberal Party) a ‘terrible’ score on sex workers’ rights because as a Melton City Councillor she proposed and voted for two motions implying that sex workers pose a threat to children and non-sex work businesses. See item 12.6 of the minutes of the 22 November 2021 Melton City Council meeting and item 14.1 of the minutes of the 20 June 2022 Melton City Council meeting. On 10 October, Melton City Council confirmed it had never received any complaints about children being exposed to sex work.

5. For details on why we give Bernie Finn a ‘terrible’ rating, see our page on the Democratic Labour Party.

6. Of all members of parliament, Dr Catherine Cumming has the worst voting record on sex workers’ rights. She was in a minority of members of the Upper House who voted against the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic). See page 267 of the Legislative Council of the Victorian Parliament on 10 February 2022

During Dr Cumming’s speech about the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic), she appeared to struggle to understand some clauses of the bill and made frequent references to HIV and public health threats. See page 253 of the Hansard link above.

Dr Cumming was the only member of the Upper House to vote against the Justice Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Bill 2022 (Vic) which classifies the non-payment of sexual service fees as sexual assault or rape. See page 83 of Hansard for 30 August 2022 in the Legislative Council.

On 19 November 2022, the media reported that Dr Cumming was being investigated by police for incitement, after she made public comments about the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-19/victorian-daniel-andrews-catherine-cumming-threats/101675162

7. Moira Deeming’s Twitter account is dedicated almost exclusively to criticising the trans movement.

Northern Metropolitan Region (One Brilliant and One Very Good Candidate)

Northern Metropolitan Region
If you live here, you're voting in the Northern Metropolitan Region (click map to enlarge)

Source of map above: Victorian Electoral Commission

If you live in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, two of the declared candidates for the Northern Metropolitican Region have a ‘Brilliant’ or ‘Excellent’ track record on sex workers’ rights. The other candidates have no track record on sex workers’ rights and are therefore not included in the table below.

Score: Brilliant

Score: Excellent

Fiona Patten

(Reason Party)

Samantha Ratnam

(Greens Party)

Fiona Patten Reason Party

Victorian Greens

Without Ms Patten, sex work would not be decriminalised in Victoria

Strong voting record on sex workers’ rights

Legislative Council

Northern Metro Region

Legislative Council

Northern Metro Region

7. To learn why we rated Fiona Patten ‘Brilliant’ on sex workers’ rights, see our page on the Reason Party.

8. To learn why we rated Samantha Ratnam ‘Excellent’ on sex workers’ rights, see our page on the Greens Party.

We gave the Greens Party a ‘Very good’ rating. The negative aspects of the Green’s Party’s history involving anti-sex work candidate Kathleen Maltzahn do not apply to Samantha Ratnam as an individual as the events surrounding Kathleen Maltzahn occurred prior to Ms Ratnam becoming the party’s leader in late 2017. As such, individually, we rate Samantha Ratnam ‘Excellent’.

South Eastern Metropolitan Region (an Excellent Candidate)

South Eastern Metropolitan Region
If you live here, you're voting in the South Eastern Metropolitan Region (click map to enlarge)

Source of map above: Victorian Electoral Commission

If you live in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourneone of the declared candidates for the South Eastern Metropolitan Region has an ‘Excellent’ track record on sex workers’ rights. The other candidates have no track record on sex workers’ rights and are therefore not included in the table below.

Score: Excellent

David Limbrick

(Liberal Democrats Party)

Liberal Democrats

Strong voting record and pro-sex work speeches.

Legislative Council

South Eastern Metro Region

9. To learn why we rated David Limbrick ‘Excellent’ on sex workers’ rights, see our page on the Liberal Democrats Party.

Southern Metropolitan Region (Three Poor Candidates)

If you live here, you're voting in the Southern Metropolitan Region (click map to enlarge)

Source of map above: Victorian Electoral Commission

If you live in the southern suburbs of Melbourne, there are three anti-sex work candidates from the Liberal Party to be aware of. All three have a ‘poor’ track record on sex workers’ rights. The other candidates in this Region either have no track record on sex workers’ rights or have records that are neither particularly good or bad. As such, the other candidates are not included in the table below.

Score: Poor

Score: Poor

Score: Poor

David Davis

(Liberal Party)

Georgie Crozier

(Liberal Party)

Nick Stavrou

(Liberal Party)

Victorian Liberal Party

Victorian Liberal Party

Victorian Liberal Party

Voted against sex work decriminalisation

Voted against sex work decriminalisation

Voted against sex work decriminalisation

Legislative Council

Southern Metro Region

Legislative Council

Southern Metro Region

Legislative Council

Southern Metro Region

10. To learn why we rated David Davis and Georgie Crozier ‘Poor’ on sex workers’ rights, see our page on the Liberal Party.

11. To learn why we rated Nick Stavrou ‘Poor’ on sex workers’ rights, see our page on the Liberal PartySince 2020, Nick Stavrou has been a councillor at one of Melbourne’s most anti-sex work councils, the City of Boroondara. On 6 September 2021, Mr Stavour voted in favour of a council motion opposing the decriminalisation of sex work. See item 5.2 of the minutes of the Urban Planning Delegated Committee Meeting on 6 September 2021.

Western Victoria Region (an Excellent Candidate)

Western Victoria Region
If you live here, you're voting in the Western Victoria Region (click map to enlarge)

Source of map above: Victorian Electoral Commission

If you live in the western part of Victoriaone of the declared candidates for the Western Victoria Region has an ‘Excellent’ track record on sex workers’ rights.

Score: Excellent

Andy Meddick

(Animal Justice Party)

Strong voting record and pro-sex work speeches.

Legislative Council

Western Victoria Region

 

  1. To learn why we rated Andy Meddick ‘Excellent’ on sex workers’ rights, see our page on the Animal Justice Party.

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

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 Inc. does not endorse any political party or candidate. Sex Work Law Reform Victoria is not affiliated with any political party, candidate, councillor or local government. 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 organisationWe are not a registered charity.

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

Each political candidate is rated based on their track record on sex workers’ rights. The conduct of each candidate during this term of parliament (2018 – 2022) is given the most weight; conduct prior to 2018 is considered but given less weight. The following were taken into consideration in the ranking process:

  • the candidate’s voting record in state parliament on bills relevant to sex workers’ rights
  • the candidate’s voting record on sex work council motions
  • the candidate’s statements in the media about sex work
  • whether councillors or state members of the party have lobbied for or against sex workersrights (based on publicly available sources)
  • speeches in state parliament or council meetings regarding sex work
  • private conversations 
  • the number of times members of parliament privately met with sex workers from our group or other sex worker groups
  • the personalities of members of parties or their leaders
  • information not in the public realm
  • voting records or statements made about bills or motions not related to sex work
  •