On 28 June 2018, the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 (the “Bill”) was introduced to the House of Representatives by the Hon Alex Hawke MP (Assistant Minister for Home Affairs), where on the same day, it was referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee ("the Committee"). The Committee is due to report by 24 August 2018.
The Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum indicates the aim of the Bill is:
The Bill will apply to organisations with revenue over $100 million per financial year.
According to the EM, there is currently no formal mechanism in Australia that directly targets modern slavery in business operations and supply chains, or supports the business community to take action to address modern slavery. The Bill will support large businesses to identify and address modern slavery risks and to develop and maintain responsible and transparent supply chains.
The Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement requires reporting entities to provide annual Modern Slavery Statements to the responsible Minister to be published online on a central register, with the primary objective of the Bill:
A Statement must cover mandatory criteria by describing:
The Bill defines “modern slavery” on page 4 of the Bill as:
“…conduct which would constitute:
(a) an offence under Division 270 or 271 of the Criminal Code; or
(b) an offence under either of those Divisions if the conduct took place in Australia; or
(c) trafficking in persons, as defined in Article 3 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children …; or
(d) the worst forms of child labour, as defined in Article 3 of the ILO Convention (No. 182) …”
In the Minister’s Second Reading Speech, given before the House of Representatives on 28 June 2018, the Minister commented:
Thehas reported that anti-slavery and civil society groups have welcomed the introduction of the Bill, with the hope that it will address the issue of modern slavery in supply chains.
Some campaigners have raised concerns there are no penalties involved for companies who breach the Act. Thereports that Oxfam Australia’s Economic Policy Adviser, Joy Kyriacou said the Bill should include penalties for companies that fail to report, or report misleading information on, the steps they have taken to combat modern slavery.
The Shadow Minister for Justice,welcomed the Bill, but also said she was “deeply disappointed” at the absence of penalties for companies that breach the act.
Ms O’Neil commented further:
Also speaking with the Guardian Australia, anti-slavery advocatesaid it was a momentous day:
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