Modern Slavery Bill 2018 a Landmark Moment in Global Fight to End Modern Slavery

29 November 2018

Centre Alliance welcomes the passage of the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 through the Senate, labelling it a landmark moment in the global fight to end modern slavery. It follows a wide-ranging Parliamentary inquiry in 2017 into the establishment of a Modern Slavery Act in Australia, as well as a Senate inquiry into the provisions of the Bill passed by the Senate last night.

"From debt bondage in the fishing industry, to forced labour in the fashion industry, or human trafficking in the sex industry, the faces of today’s victims of modern slavery are many and varied," said lead Centre Alliance Senate Candidate Skye Kakoschke-Moore. "The passage of this Bill represents hope to the estimated 40.3 million people across the globe who are victims of these terrible crimes."

Once enacted, the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 will require entities based or operating in Australia with annual turnovers of more than $100 million to prepare yearly statements on potential modern slavery risks in their supply chains, and the steps that entity is taking to address those risks. The Government estimates around 3,000 entities will be required to report under this framework, including Commonwealth entities and Commonwealth companies. Modern slavery statements can also be submitted on a voluntary basis by companies that do not reach the $100 million reporting threshold. Once submitted, these reports will be publicly available.

The Global Slavery Index estimates Australia imports nearly US$12 billion worth of goods "at risk" of being made using slavery each year.

"No one would knowingly want to support modern slavery. By requiring our largest businesses to shine a light on their supply chains and publicly report on what they find, we are empowering consumers to make informed decisions about which brands they will buy," said Senator Stirling Griff.

The Modern Slavery Bill 2018 was the subject of robust negotiations between the government, crossbench, NGOs and business leaders. The legislated three year review will provide the opportunity to revisit certain aspects of the reporting framework that could not be agreed to by the Parliament.

"Certainly we would have liked to have seen some enhancements to the Bill, such as the appointment of an independent Modern Slavery Commissioner and a published list of entities required to prepare modern slavery statements. However, this was one of those occasions where we couldn’t let perfect be the enemy of the good, and the Bill that passed the Senate last night will still make Australia one of the world leaders in addressing modern slavery," said Senator Rex Patrick.

Since March this year Skye has been working as a Special Adviser to the International Justice Mission, the world’s largest anti-slavery organisation. She said the NGO sector was encouraged by the multi-partisan approach taken to getting this legislation through Parliament.

"This was one of those rare occasions when Parliament, the business community and the NGO sector were able to find common ground. As a result, the lives of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people stand to change for the better," said Skye.

Following amendments moved by the Government to the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 in the Senate, the Bill will now return to the House of Representatives for a final vote.

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