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The sex industry has moved beyond the neon lights of Kings Cross to the city's sprawling suburbs, with clusters of brothels in Parramatta, Willoughby, Liverpool and Canterbury-Bankstown. The inner city remains the epicentre of the sex industry, with 39 brothels operating within the City of Sydney - mostly in the eastern half including Potts Point, Darlinghurst, Woolloomooloo, Surry Hills as well as the city centre.
There are also 40 other sex industry businesses such as "restricted premises" and strip clubs. Legal brothels in Sydney are spread out across the suburbs, such as this establishment in Artarmon. Credit: Louie Douvis. The Nevada, pictured in , was a Kings Cross brothel, which claimed to have "Australia's largest bed". Credit: Paul Murray.
Brothels in NSW are approved by councils under local planning controls that typically prohibit sex establishments in residential areas or close to churches, schools, parks and playgrounds. Estimates of the number of brothels in NSW vary wildly and, unlike Queensland and Victoria, the state government does not keep a tally of legal brothels. Chris Seage, the owner of Brothel Busters, which investigates illegal brothels for councils, said this situation was "pathetic".
The Daily Telegraph reported in that there were brothels in Sydney, with 90 complaints about illegal operations. By comparison, there are just 20 legal brothels in the entire state of Queensland, where stringent regulations require brothels to be licensed by the Prostitution Licensing Authority. There are 85 licensed brothels in Melbourne.
Cameron Cox, the chief executive of the Sex Workers Outreach Project, said it was unlikely that demand for sex services was greater in NSW than other states with fewer legal brothels. Some local councils seem to have trouble keeping track of brothels under their jurisdiction. Development consent has been granted for 13 brothels since within Georges River Council, which covers Hurstville and Kogarah, but a spokeswoman said the council did not know whether any of these brothels were still open.