Modern Slavery Bill passed in NSW; introduced into Federal Parliament

August 6, 2018
Market Thoughts & Insights

On 21st June this year, Ethical Partners was present in the Upper House of the NSW Parliament to watch the passage of the Modern Slavery Bill, Australia’s first legislation on Modern Slavery.  This historic legislation is a very positive first step in addressing the issue, and Ethical Partners strongly welcomes the requirements within this bill for enhanced corporate reporting on slavery within supply chains.  Several week later, Ethical Partners was also honoured to meet with the Hon.Paul Green MLC, who championed the NSW legislation, in his offices in Parliament.  We enjoyed this opportunity to discuss with him the implications of this Bill for company reporting, and how Ethical Partners can help support the application of this legislation in their dealings with companies.  We very much look forward to the enhanced reporting and deeper conversation around the issues of supply chain transparency that this legislation can provide.

A week later, a separate Modern Slaverly Bill was introduced to the Australian Parliament on 28 June 2018 by the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Alex Hawke MP. Debate on the Bill will occur in the second half of 2018.

Key elements of the Federal Modern Slavery Bill include:

  • Application to Australian companies foreign entities carrying on a business in Australia.
  • Australian Government to publish an annual consolidated statement covering Commonwealth procurement.
  • Reporting on all modern slavery practices criminalised under Commonwealth law, including slavery, trafficking in persons, servitude, forced labour, forced marriage and the worst forms of child labour.  
  • A Government-run, public central repository of Modern Slavery Statements. Reporting entities to publish Modern Slavery Statements within six months from the end of their financial year.
  • Mandatory reporting criteria on: corporate structure, operations and supply chains; potential modern slavery risks; actions taken to assess and address risks; and how they assess the effectiveness of their actions.
  • A reporting threshold of AUD$100 million annual consolidated revenue.

The Bill does not include:

  • Financial penalties for non-reporting.
  • Provisions establishing an Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
  • A public list of entities required to report under the legislation.
  • A requirement that companies subject to the legislation must comply to be eligible for participation in public tenders.

(Source for details of the Federal Bill: Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, July 2018)

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