Australia is set to halt modern slavery by forcing 3,000 businesses to report what they are doing to avoid using forced labour in their supply chains.
The Modern Slavery Bill seeks to stamp out the sale of any product in Australia that involves non-voluntary
labour, said Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Alex Hawke, who introduced the bill, which emulates Britain’s
Modern Slavery Act, in parliament.
year to report what they have done to prevent modern slavery being used in their supply chains.
Hawke said no fewer than 3,000 businesses are expected to be involved.
“We are asking businesses to report on both what has and what has not worked in their efforts to stamp out modern
“Over time, we believe this bill will foster a ‘race to the top’ culture that will ensure Australia is a regional
and world leader in tackling modern slavery in supply chains,” Hawke said.
Human rights campaigner Oxfam Australia said the bill was a positive step but did not go far enough.
“There needs to be penalties for companies that don’t comply or that give false or incorrect information,”
said Oxfam Australia Economic Policy Adviser Joy Kyriacou in a telephone interview.
“The evidence from the UK, where they don’t have any penalties for non-compliance, is that a very minimal
number of companies that are due to report under their modern slavery act actually have reported at all,”
Kyriacou called for an independent slavery commissioner and a commitment from the government to publish a
verified list of companies which have reported anti-slavery action.
The British law introduced life sentences for traffickers, measures to protect people at risk of being enslaved
and made large companies scrutinize supply chains for forced labour.
There were 45.8 million slaves in the world in 2016, more than two years earlier, according to non-profit
group Global Slavery Index.