The Modern Slavery Act: a law worth fighting for
On the 21st of June 2018, NSW Parliament passed one of its most historic pieces of legislation – the Modern Slavery Act 2018. The NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said that “there is an undeniable moral imperative to take action in relation to all forms of modern slavery.” Two years on, that ‘imperative’ has led to no further action – and it’s time for that to change.
While some would argue that slavery has largely been left to the dustbins of history, many practices that would be considered slavery still continue today. These include practices such as forced marriages, involuntary labour, and human trafficking. And these practices aren’t just occurring overseas – internationally there are upwards of 40 million people living in slave like conditions, with 2,000 of them living in Australia.
The Modern Slavery Act goes some way to rectifying these issues. Among the policy proposals embedded in the legislation are:
- The appointment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner, which would oversight over industry practices and supply chains to stamp out slavery in NSW and connected supply chains;
- The requirement for entities with revenue of over $100 million to release a “modern slavery statement”, which includes information on its supply chains and processes it has taken to eradicate modern slavery within them;
- Providing penalties of up to $1.1 million to entities who do not abide by the legislation, as well as ‘naming and shaming’ of entities who do not provide a statement, or provide false or misleading information within them.
This law has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of Australians, as well as millions of people around the globe who work in supply chains that supply Australian industries. It’s a simple piece of legislation that has far reaching consequences for vulnerable individuals around our state and throughout the world.
The NSW legislation is one of the strongest anti-slavery laws in the world. For example, in comparison, the British counterpart of this law does not provide financial penalties to entities who fail to comply with their laws, limiting punishment to ‘naming and shaming’.
It’s a fact that the people of NSW should be proud of.
The debate on the legislation has come and passed, and the people of NSW have made their voices heard. Despite this, the Berejiklian Government has yet to have this act ‘proclaimed’ into law – meaning that the important functions of the Modern Slavery Act have yet to be enforced.
It’s ripe time for this act to be enacted by the NSW Government. Thousands are literally relying on it.