Australia: Federal Parliament passes Modern Slavery Act 2018

On 29 November 2018, the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 passed both houses of the Parliament of Australia. After receiving assent from the Governor General, it will soon become law with an anticipated effective date of 1 January 2019. The new law will require certain large entities with a turnover of AUD$100 million or more to publish annual statements outlining the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and actions taken to address those risks. 

Parliament House

Blue hour photo of Parliament House, Canberra Australia” by Thennicke is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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Article
4 December 2018

Aldi welcomes Australia's new modern slavery law

Author: 9 News

Supermarket giant acts on anti-slavery law, 30 November 2018

Retail giant Aldi is working with its suppliers in the wake of new laws compelling businesses with turnovers of more than $100 million to report what they are doing to stamp out slavery in supply chains.

...Daniel Baker, Aldi Australia's corporate responsibility director, said the laws were a huge step in the right direction.

"There is no place for modern slavery in our business or our extended supply chains," he said on Friday.

Aldi has entered into a partnership with the Centre for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility to train suppliers in child labour prevention and remediation.

As well, it is working with the global Stronger Together initiative, which helps companies to deter, detect and deal with cases of forced labour, labour trafficking and other labour exploitation.

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Article
4 December 2018

Commentary: At last, Australia has a Modern Slavery Act. Here’s what you’ll need to know

Author: Paul Redmond, The Conversation

3 December 2018

It has taken years, but after votes in the Senate and House of Representatives last week, Australia has a Modern Slavery Act.

...Australia's will require businesses and other organisations above a certain size (consolidated revenue of A$100 million) to report annually on the risks of modern slavery....

...Two controversial omissions are penalties and independent oversight.

This needn't be fatal. The requirement and the public register means that companies that don't report properly can be "named and shamed"....

Australia's parliamentary inquiry and a good many of the submissions strongly supported the appointment of an independent statutory anti-slavery commissioner with the authority and resources to oversee compliance.

...The Labor party supports both penalties and the appointment of an independent commissioner.

It is possible that both requirements will be in place before the first modern slavery statements are due on June 30, 2020.

...[W]e need to monitor compliance levels, and determine whether penalties and independent oversight are needed. And we need to set up processes that ensure the reports are of good quality.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide a guide. Happily, the Act adopts these principles.

...The Guiding Principles help here too, outlining the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights and to provide remedies wherever they operate.

...The Act is a start, quite a good one. We will need more.

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Article
1 December 2018

Australia targets big business with world's 2nd anti-slavery law

Author: Kieran Guilbert, Thomson Reuters Foundation

29 November 2018

Big companies and public bodies in Australia will have to disclose how they tackle modern-day slavery in their operations under a law...that activists say is tougher on business than Britain's landmark 2015 anti-slavery legislation.

The world's second anti-slavery law, passed by Australia, requires companies with a turnover of A$100 million or more ($73 million) to publish annual statements outlining the risk of slavery in supply chains and actions taken to address this.

Yet some human rights groups and trade unions said a lack of financial penalties for companies who flout Australia's Modern Slavery Act was a missed opportunity.

...Compared to Britain's law, Australia's legislation is stricter on the information companies must provide, establishes a central database of their annual statements, and compels public bodies to also publish their anti-slavery efforts.

...The Australian government said the inclusion of civil penalties would be considered in a review of the legislation scheduled for three years after it comes into force.

The law could improve labour rights from farms in Australia to garment factories in nearby countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam and encourage better cooperation between businesses, investors and civil society, human rights groups said.

"(Governments and businesses in the region) will be galvanised which should generate momentum for similar legislation in Asia-Pacific countries," said Amy Sinclair of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - a pressure group....

 

 

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