Sex workers accuse adult advertising website of anti-competitive behaviour

Sex workers are calling on the Commerce Commission to investigate the sex worker online advertising business.

Online escort directories are the main way sex workers advertise their services, and one, NZ Girls, is being accused of anti-competitive behaviour.

Adult advertising website NZ Pleasures says NZ Girls holds about 90 percent of the market and abuses its market power by not letting its customers advertise on other sites.

NZ Pleasures director, Sharon, said NZ Girls had probably breached Section 36 of the Commerce Act.

She has started an online petition to gauge how much support was out there for an investigation to get underway.

Steve Crow who operates another directory, Girl 4U, has taken the same complaint to the Commission before, he said.

Mr Crow said NZ Girls' behaviour was definitely anti-competitive.

"Anyone who appears on another site will get a phone call probably within 10 or 15 minutes to say, 'Hey you need to take your profile down or you'll be bumped to the bottom of the site, you'll be permanently banned, or instead of paying $100 a week you'll be paying $150, $200 or $300 a week'. "

He said there was no way NZ Girls would insist on exclusive advertising if it did not have a dominance in the market and was doing so because it could get away with it.

"I've had lots of talks with them but they're incredibly arrogant. They're just basically, 'that's the way it is, those are rules and the girls can take it or leave it'. "

Several complaints have been made to the Commission about NZ Girls over the last 10 years. NZ Pleasures' most recent complaint was not looked into, with the Commission saying it did not believe NZ Girls had a substantial degree of market power.

Mr Crow, who has been involved in the industry for 25 years, said the complaints had not been taken seriously. "At the end of the day it's an adult industry and it's politically a hot potato for anyone to start getting involved with messing around in the adult industry."

Sharon said it was worth another shot and said she was hopeful a thorough investigation would be done.

"It's important now that they actually stand up and say, 'This is an industry within NZ, it's now decriminalised, it should be recognised.'

"I don't think that they've been looking at it as seriously as they should be."

Barrister John Land, who specialises in competition law, said there were three tests to check whether Section 36 had been breached: whether someone had a substantial degree of power; if they took advantage of their market power; and if they were acting in an anti-competitive way.

Dame Catherine Healy from the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective said it encouraged sex workers to advertise through as many avenues as possible.

"I think it's important that sex workers have parallel advertisements, because a business can withdraw and that would be a tremendous disruption.

"We've seen that happen with Cracker when it had to withdraw overnight."

Cracker, used by New Zealand escorts, was one of many subsidiary sites off Backpage.com, a site shut down by US authorities in April.

"Quite a number of sex workers were displaced and they didn't have a back-up plan, so it's really important there's a multitude of players," said Dame Catherine.

NZ Girls did not respond to RNZ's request for an interview.

Street prostitute standing by the car
Sex worker (file picture). Source: istock.com



'We think he dug himself a snow dug-out shelter' - Mt Aspiring climber's tale of survival

The Australian soldier who was found alive on Mount Aspiring had dug a shelter in the snow to survive.

The climber was standing up and waving when helicopters reached him late yesterday and was believed to have only slight frostbite.

Rescuers are planning to fly 29-year-old Terry Harch down from the mountain today.

He has been on the mountain in freezing conditions for a week. He activated his emergency beacon at midday on Monday.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand search and rescue mission coordinator Geoff Lunt said the soldier's army skills and training may have helped him survive.

"I'm assuming that he's an experienced climber ... we think he dug himself a snow dug-out shelter and that's helped in his survivability over these last few days."

The man had left food and equipment at French Ridge hut before climbing the mountain.

"A lot of climbers leave a lot of their equipment and clothing at a base camp and then make a fast ascent on the mountain that they're climbing and then come back down again," Mr Lunt said

Source: 1 NEWS

"I'm sure he was suitably equipped to carry out that, but as to what happened, we'll find that out later."

Mr Lunt said two helicopters managed to get to the location about 5pm yesterday and drop four Wanaka Alpine Cliff Rescue team members to go to the climber.

The co-ordinator of the Wanaka Alpine Cliff Rescue team, Paul Rogers, said it was too windy for the paramedic on board to be winched down to the man, or for him to be winched onto the helicopter.

"So the four rescuers preempted this and they were dropped off as close to the target area that we wanted to get to and they went in on skis. They toured in skis towing sleds and survival equipment to get to this guy."

The rescuers had a tent and other supplies and stayed with him overnight.

"It was the best result we could hope for and we're just very pleased that this gentlemen has got extremely good survival skills and he did everything he could to keep himself alive," Mr Rogers said.

The four rescuers included a builder, two ski guides, and another guide who manages Everest Base Camp - all trained in pre-hospital care.

Mr Rogers said the man had done the best thing he could, which was shelter from the wind.

"There is some minor frostbite being dealt with and we're obviously hydrating him and feeding him and we've just been going into a re-warming protocol for hypothermia.

"We'll just finish the job off, we're only halfway through, we've still got to get them all off the hill."

Mr Lunt said the plan today was to airlift the group of five, as well as two rescuers in nearby French Ridge Hut.

The weather was looking favourable for a rescue.

"It is an amazing outcome - a great feeling for everyone," Mr Lunt said.

Senior search and rescue member Jeff Lunt said they’re hopeful to have a helicopter land to rescue the climber missing since Tuesday. Source: Breakfast


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NZ dog-friendly bars in fundraising push for the SPCA - find the nearest 'all dogs are welcome' pub near you

If you didn’t already have enough good reasons to down a few pints at your local pub, the New Zealand SPCA is giving you another one.

A fundraising effort is underway to distribute the entire worth of certain kegs of beer to SPCA volunteers.

Dog-friendly bars and breweries are allowing canines and their owners to come along to these special events.

"We've designed the space to be as dog friendly as possible, because we love having animals around. All dogs are welcome,” Garage Project Kingsland manager Yoyo Dieudionne said.

"It's just a really fun overall event for people to come. In bring their dogs, see the space, taste the beers and give to an awesome charity.

"Garage Project like to give back to the community. And for us, because the SPCA work with those special little fury friends in our lives, it just seemed appropriate to designate an event solely for the SPCA every year."

For all info on the Pint for Pooches event visit their Facebook page.

Kegs of beer in certain establishments around NZ are being contributed to SPCA volunteers. Source: 1 NEWS