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Canberra Today 8°/10° | Monday, July 4, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Lights out as Pretty Woman drops into the dumpster

The not-so-pretty Pretty Woman site in Mitchell undergoing an architectural makeover.

An era ends, but no-one’s talking about it, says IAN MEIKLE. “Seven Days” pokes its nose into prostitution, so to speak. 

WHEN real estate agent Lenny Haddrill was trying to lease the Mitchell warehouse formerly known as the Pretty Woman whorehouse, his “For Lease” sign dryly listed among the building’s few virtues, “internal amenities”.

Ian Meikle.

All for nought, I fancy, as a new tenant has stripped bare the 419 square metres in Huddart Court, and with it piled more than 20 years of naughtiness into builders’ dumpsters.

Pretty Woman seemed never to recover from the last covid lockdown and the signature scarlet neon sign went dark. Now the lights are long gone, so too the concrete lions that stood either side of its front door. 

What was it like inside? Who knows? I can’t find anyone who admits to having ever been there.

Then I thought of a guy who’s seen the inside of more brothels and been with (not biblically) more prostitutes than anyone else I know and isn’t shy to talk about his exploits. 

It’s former MLA Michael Moore and it was all for work, of course. Just ask wife Helen who, when taking a call from a Sydney reporter, explained her husband wasn’t home, he was “visiting a brothel”.

Michael was elected to the first self-government assembly in 1989 on the Residents’ Rally ticket and took up the chair of a select committee looking into HIV, illegal drugs and prostitution.

By the 1992 election, he had the Prostitution Act 1992 before the Assembly, but Labor and the Libs weren’t game to pass it that side of the poll. They did in a heartbeat afterwards. 

The legislation, which remains largely unamended 30 years later (now it’s the Sex Workers Act 1992), was aimed at empowering the sex worker. Moore says, for example, it made condoms compulsory, which drew an enquiry during a radio interview asking if this was to be policed by a condomstabulary?

Michael Moore. Photo: Danielle Nohra

The select committee published an interim report ahead of the legislation and Moore says the most faxed (it was 1991) section was Appendix G, the price list of services available.

In deference to the modesty of my readership, I shall list only the headline and the price: “For the beginners on a budget”, $35; “Spanish massage”, $55; “Cinderella’s syndrome” $55; “Domination”, $90 and “Double Trouble”, $240. 

In settling the legislation, Moore and his four other committee members – Bill Wood, Robyn Nolan, Bill Stefaniak and Carmel Maher – were warmly welcomed at every brothel, all illegal in the ACT at that time, including upstairs bordellos at the Ainslie and O’Connor shops. Ultimately, the legislation had all brothels contained in the industrial suburbs of Fyshwick, Hume and Mitchell. 

Ah, speaking of Mitchell, your memories of Pretty Woman, Michael? 

None. “I think Pretty Woman must have come later.”

On that note…

IN a recent, polite request to meet with Small Business Minister Tara Cheyne, Phillip’s passionate Head Trader Tom Adam wrote that, among other things, he was keen to dispel some of the “offline feedback” from public servants online that “we’re all ‘rolling in cash’ and ‘making profits from government funds’.”

Tom Adam.

“After the past 2.5 years I may have received $165,000 in government grants and support, in the same time have paid $135,000 back in PAYG and BAS, but I’ve also paid $480,000 in wages to my 20-odd employees, with a total of $2000 “profit” (before interest and tax) and lived off $45-50,000 a year through the whole thing. 

“I didn’t get into business for the money, I do it for what I love.” 

When he’s not arguing the cause as president of the Phillip Business Community, Master Tom is founder and chief instructor of Canberra Martial Arts & Fitness.

“But I have to be honest, over the past 2.5 years I’ve felt that some of the comments (directly and indirectly) have made me feel that I’m not on an equal footing with other Canberrans who have stable positions,” he says.

I WAS taken aback by the content of an open letter to members of the ACT Legislative Assembly from a group called Save Canberra’s Kangaroos that’s featured in a full-page advertisement in this edition of “CityNews”.

Headlined “The Killing Must Stop”, the group says that every year, over the winter months, ratepayers fund the ACT government to “send hired guns to stalk Canberra nature reserves at night”. 

Here’s the shock: “Over 12 years, across 11,400 hectares of the Canberra Nature Park, 27,950 kangaroos have been killed. Thousands more pouch joeys have been bludgeoned to death or decapitated. 

Last year, 296 kangaroos and 120 joeys were killed at Farrer Ridge. Nearby residents huddled in their houses, distressed by the sound of kangaroos being shot and dying. Tragically, only 32 kangaroos survived what can only be described as a massacre.”

Almost that time again, what will the pollies do? 

A BON mot from “Whimsy” columnist Clive Williams: Scientific studies show that if your parents didn’t have children there’s a high probability you won’t either. 

Ian Meikle is the editor of “CityNews” and can be heard on the “CityNews Sunday Roast” news and interview program, 2CC, 9am-noon. 

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Ian Meikle

Ian Meikle

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