​Labor takes aim at global slavery in supply chains

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​Labor takes aim at global slavery in supply chains

Major Australian companies would be made to report publicly on the steps they are taking to confront slavery within their supply chains under a Labor Party platform supported by businesses and unions.

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Major Australian companies would be made to report publicly on the steps they are taking to confront slavery within their supply chains under a Labor Party platform supported by businesses and unions.

Labor announced yesterday it would introduce an Australian Modern Slavery Act, complementing existing legislation in the UK, France, California and the EU, which would focus on transparency within business supply chains.

The ACTU, the Business Council of Australia and the Salvation Army, representing the community sector, all announced support  for the proposal and are calling on the Turnbull government to also commit its support. 

Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten said, in making the announcement, there are an estimated 45.8 million people held in slavery – two-thirds of whom are estimated to be in the Asia-Pacific region – and an estimated 4300 people involved in forced labour, sex trafficking and debt bondage in Australia.

The two key features of the proposed legislation would be the requirement for annual reporting by large companies to the Australian government and the establishment of an Australian Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Reporting requirements


Labor’s Fact Sheet on the proposed legislation states that companies would be required to complete a slavery and human trafficking statement which would include: “specific information including information about the company's supply chain, where risk has been identified in that supply chain, what steps are being taken to ensure slavery is not part of the supply chain, training provided to staff on these matters and whether slavery has been found in the supply chain and what action has been taken”. 

There would be penalties for non-compliance.

Anti-Slavery Commissioner 


The second key part of the legislation would be the establishment of the Office of the Australian Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. Its purpose would be to assist authorities to detect, investigate and prosecute slavery, recognising that victims of modern slavery are often incredibly vulnerable and face cultural, social, economic and language barriers. 

The Commissioner’ role would include receiving inquiries and complaints, assisting businesses to protect their supply chains, working to prevent and detect slavery and assisting global efforts by working with other countries and international organisations. 
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