Parliament to move on modern slavery laws

Proposed laws aimed at stamping out modern slavery in Australian supply chains passed the lower house on Monday, however Labor’s attempts to introduce penalties was voted down.

Under the proposed laws, businesses with turnovers of at least $100 million will have to say what they’re doing to stop modern slavery in their supply chains.

Labor’s attempts to establish an independent anti-slavery commissioner, remove forced marriage from reporting requirements and include penalties for non-compliance were voted down.

The passing marks an initial green light in the Federal Government’s move to monitor modern slavery through Australian supply chains, following on from the example set by New South Wales earlier this year.

In June, New South Wales passed the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) (NSW Act), however the introduction of a Federal law would keep operations consistent across Australia.

The Act has been instrumental in outlining a broad definition of modern slavery, allowing for further exploration and implementation to be put forward.

According to the NSW Act, modern slavery constitutes;

  • Any conduct constituting one of the listed offences (e.g. trafficking of persons (including children) under the Commonwealth Criminal Code);
  • Slavery and slavery-like offences under the Crimes Act 1900; or
  • Any conduct involving the use of any form of slavery, servitude or forced labour to exploit children or other persons taking place in the supply chains of government agencies or non-government agencies. 

The introduction of a Federal law demonstrates the government’s commitment to affirmative action on the subject, suggesting franchisor should be mindful and diligent in regard to future supply chain practices.