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Strengthened Amended Modern Slavery Law Passes NSW Parliament, Federal Government Now Urged To Act

MEDIA RELEASE: 19 November 2021

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—A truly independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and ensuring local councils and state-owned corporations are covered by NSW’s modern slavery regime are some of the strengthened anti-slavery provisions passed by the NSW Parliament today.

The bolstered Modern Slavery Amendment Act passed the Parliament with support from all political parties and will come into effect from 1 January 2022, putting an end to three years of limbo for the original, uncommenced Act from June 2018.

International Justice Mission (IJM) Australia CEO, Steve Baird, welcomed the new provisions included after sustained advocacy from the community, IJM Australia, faith leaders and NGOs.

“This is a positive step forward in ensuring that NSW is addressing the scourge of modern slavery, which we know is in our supply chains and contributing to everyday items on the self,” Mr Baird said.

“While it is disappointing that the NSW Government retreated from the strength of its initial commitment, Premier Perrottet has redeemed his government by ensuring key measures have been included. It is truly encouraging to see parliamentarians come together from across party lines to get this legislation across the line.”

Mr Baird highlighted some of the important features of the updated legislation:

“The law now establishes a strong Anti-Slavery Commissioner, who is properly resourced and truly independent of government – a tough cop on the beat, educating business and shining a light on this issue.

“Importantly, the new law also ensures that local governments and state-owned corporations are covered by any NSW modern slavery regime.

“With spending power totalling $12 billion every year funded by local ratepayers, the last thing the community wants is their local council buying products tainted by slavery.”

IJM Australia also welcomed the NSW Government’s commitment to lead the way in pushing the Federal Government to lower the federal reporting threshold and strengthen the national modern slavery regime.

“This is not some far away issue. This is in our backyard and businesses selling in Australia end up profiting from it. But it doesn’t have to be this way and the NSW Government’s modern slavery regime is a step in the right direction,” Mr Baird said.

“Now the focus turns to the Federal Government and its wet lettuce approach to tackling this issue.

“Under the Federal regime, companies with an annual consolidated revenue of at least $100 million have to report on their supply chains, but even if they have questionable supply chain practices there are no penalties and little regulatory oversight – this must change.

“We welcome the NSW Government’s commitment to lead the charge on this important next step.”

The latest data from SD Strategies, which analysed 36,000 supply chains to 60 Australian businesses, found 48 per cent were potentially at ‘high risk’ for modern slavery, highlighting the importance of a strong legislative response.

Of the 1,000 goods and services analysed, 82 per cent were likely to have been produced by people in slavery at some point in the supply chain – in other words, eight in every ten products on the shelf.

Learn more about the campaign for a NSW Modern Slavery Act.

MEDIA:   Nick Trainor 0407 078 138

Image credit: Emily Sandrussi.

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