Australia’s modern slavery laws: one step closer

By Dash Buxton @dirkandscabbar1

Modern slavery laws are now one step closer following a NSW Parliament’s Standing Committee review into the NSW’s version of the proposed law.

The review found there are benefits to keeping both the NSW law and the Commonwealth law and praised the proposed NSW law as being world-leading in the fight against modern slavery.

Modern slavery encompasses activities including sexual servitude, forced labour, forced marriage, debt bonding (as seen in the sex industry), the sale of human tissue, child abuse and child trafficking.

When modern slavery laws come into effect in Australia they will have impacts across business supply chains, the operations of non government organisations (NGOs), charities and councils. The Commonwealth has also enacted a modern slavery law, though it has not yet commenced.

The review of the proposed NSW law intended to answer a number of questions, including whether there was a need for the proposed NSW law to even commence with a Commonwealth law already in place. Where Commonwealth and State laws cover the same area, the Commonwealth law prevails where they may clash.

The committee examined several key aspects of the proposed NSW law in detail and made several key recommendations. The proposed NSW law, if enacted, will go further than the Commonwealth law in several ways, including:

    • the appointment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner and  creation of a Parliamentary Committee to work on modern slavery policy in Australia
    • Increased transparency for supply chains, with specific obligations the Government and business
    • New offences to be created under the NSW Crimes Act
    • New protections for victims of modern slavery

The review proposed that the NSW law be operational by 1 January 2021, to allow time for both Government and business to prepare for the new requirements.

Featured image: NSW Legislative Assembly. Photo by Coekon/CC-BY-SA-4.0/WikimediaCommons

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