Good News: THe act has passed
The Modern Slavery Bill has passed the Senate and the House of Representatives.
'This Act requires entities based, or operating, in Australia, which have an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million, to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and actions to address those risks.'
STOP THE TRAFFIK welcomes this Act as a first step in addressing transparency and modern slavery in supply chains. But it is only a start. We are pleased there will be a three-year review, which will include addressing whether civil penalties for non-compliance in reporting will be introduced.
We continue to maintain that an Independent Commissioner or Adviser is necessary for the effective implementation of Australia's strategy to address modern slavery. This has been recommended by all Parliamentary Inquiries. We are grateful for the commitment of Labor, the Greens, Centre Alliance Parties and Senators Storer and Hinch for this to be introduced in the future.
We also look forward to the other matters raised in the "Hidden in Plain Sight" report being addressed by the Government of the day.
Your soul gets worn down working in Parliament House.
There’s something about seeing the worst of people daily, the disingenuousness, the hypocrisy. It’s exhausting. It makes you feel like Bancini from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: “I’m tired, and it’s a lot of baloney.”
However, every so often, good can still be done here.
And last night was one of those nights in the Senate. Colour looks brilliant against a black background.
We are grateful for the engagement of our activists and members over many years on this campaign. It started in 2011 when STOP THE TRAFFIK, Oaktree Foundation and Uniting Church Justice and International Mission Unit published 'Unshackling Laws Against Slavery - legal options for addressing goods produced with trafficked and slave labour."
Since then we have
sent 10's of 1,000's of postcards to successive Attorney's General
distributed 20,000 postcards asking the Prime Minister to show leadership on this issue
conducted Lobby Labs to train people on visiting their politicians - and they did amazing things
networked civil society towards having a united voice through Be Slave Free
written submissions to successive Inquiries and Consultations
met with politicians from all sides over many hours
Much of this work has been done by our volunteers and activists - THANK YOU.
And the politicians
It was a process that showed what our democratic process and what political parties and members can achieve together with Business and Civil Society. Some particular people
Liberal MP Julie Bishop, under her leadership, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade formed the Join Parliamentary Inquiry.
Liberal MP Chris Crewther, produced a report on the issue of modern slavery, Hidden In Plain Sight, which is one of the best parliamentary reports you will read, from anywhere in the world. His leadership of the committee allowed them to learn and interact with business and civil society in a way that led to collaboration.
Liberal MP Alex Hawke initially had the portfolio to begin the legislation process.
Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds, who is passionate about this issue, skilfully negotiated in all parties, including her own.
Labor MP Clare O’Neil drove this issue from Labor’s side and put in an inordinate amount of work, working across party lines.
Greens Senator Nick McKim, independent South Australian Senator Tim Storer, Centre Alliance senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff and Senator Derryn Hinch and their respective staff, strove for a stronger Act with enthusiasm, intelligence, determination and grace.
Labor Senator Penny Wong presented our petition to the Senate.
Labor Senator Lisa Singh, we loved your speech. Also Senators Don Farrell, Ian MacDonald, and Malarndirri McCarthy.
Centre Alliance (former) Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore was a great support and adviser on the political process.
The Senate Inquiry has been released.
1. That the Government work towards building a list of 'reporting entities', and to publish compliance standards publicly, in order to test the proposition that 'reputational risk' is a sufficient motivator for reporting entities to comply with the requirements of the Act.
2. That lists of entities that do report, including entities outside the compliance threshold who report voluntarily, should be published publicly.
3. That an independent statutory officer be appointed to support the operation of the Modern Slavery Act.
4. That the statutory three-year review consider all aspects of the Act, with particular attention to compliance thresholds and compliance standards, and that the review be required to consider whether a mandatory penalty regime is required, drawing on the evidence and data gathered through the first three years of the Act's operation. The committee acknowledges that it may be shown that penalties are not needed.
5. That the Modern Slavery Bill be amended to include, in one location, reference to Australia's existing Modern Slavery offences (as outlined in Divisions 270 and 271 of the Criminal Code Act 1995) and to offences relating to fighting modern slavery such as offences relating to sexual and labour exploitation under the Migration Act 1958.
6. Subject to the above recommendations, the committee recommends that the bill be passed.
The Bill has been Tabled
The Modern Slavery Bill has been tabled in the House of Representatives and referred to the Senate for an Inquiry. Responses are due by the 20th of July, 2018.
The Government wants to support business to take action and create a level playing field for those who are doing the right thing through a legislative framework. However, the Government has omitted commitments to there being an Anti-Slavery Commissioner and penalties for non-compliance in reporting. Without someone charged with the responsibility and authority to oversee and implement the Act and without consequences for not complying with the Act, it will be very weak indeed.
This Could Be Our Best Chance to End Modern Slavery
STOP THE TRAFFIK welcomed the recent release of the Labor Party National Platform and the Minister of Home Affairs (the Hon Alex Hawke MP) both of which make commitments to a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.
We applaud the Minister Alex Hawke's vision that,
“This legislation sends a clear message that modern slavery will not be tolerated in our community or in the supply chains of our goods and services.”
Hidden in Plain Sight
STOP THE TRAFFIK welcomed the release of the report “Hidden in Plain Sight - An inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia”. The report adopts a human rights approach, which we support.
Hidden in Plain Sight addresses the multifaceted nature of modern slavery crimes. Tackling its wide-ranging nature requires all key aspects of the report being picked up in the proposed legislation. Should all the recommendations be adopted it will have enormously positive impacts on the lives and destinies of potentially millions of people working in the supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region including Australia. It will also provide better options and outcomes for people at risk of being coerced into conditions of modern slavery and support for victims of the same crimes.