Moranbah motel decision raises plenty of questions

A judgement brought down by the Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal this week could have considerable ramifications for the accommodation industry.

The tribunal has ruled Evan and Joan Hartley, the owners of the Drovers Rest Motel in the mining town of Moranbah, contravened the Anti-Discrimination Act when they banned a sex worker from staying at their property.
The Gold Coast-based prostitute had used the motel 17 times in two years until the Hartleys found she was bringing clients to her room, resulting in the refusal to rent her a room. The prostitute lost an anti-discrimination case last year but appealed last month.
A hearing date is yet to be set to decide on compensation for the sex worker who is seeking $30,000 from the motel for lost earnings.
The ruling could have wide implications in Queensland where the mining boom is seeing a huge increase in the number of sex workers in regional towns. But the decision has already caused a stir among accommodation providers.
One hotel owner queried whether a person that was refused a drink in an establishment because the owner considered them intoxicated, could take action under the Anti-Discrimination Act. Another cited a person asked to vacate accommodation because of unruly behaviour may also have a case.
“The Accommodation Association of Australia is yet to digest the judgment in the anti-discrimination case that was brought by a sex worker against a motel in regional Queensland in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal,” AAA said in a statement.
“Until the association analyses the detail of the judgment, it’s difficult to pass comment specifically about the case.
“More broadly, the responsibility for making the decision about who is able to stay in tourism accommodation businesses should lie with the owner, operator, licensee or manager of the business. The owner, operator, licensee or manager needs to preserve the amenity of the establishment for the benefit of all guests to ensure their tourism experience is enhanced by their stay.
“Should it be necessary once we have examined the judgment in detail, AAA will seek to have further discussions with both the Queensland government and the federal government about issues that it may raise,” the statement says.

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