The Hon Michael Keenan MP
Minister for Justice
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism
Chris Crewther MP
Federal Member for Dunkley
Chair – Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee
Minister for Justice Michael Keenan has today announced that the Coalition Government will take an important step to further strengthen our world-leading approach to combatting modern slavery.
“I am pleased to announce that the Government proposes to introduce legislation that will make it a requirement for large businesses to report annually on their actions to address modern slavery,” Mr Keenan said.
“The first step is an extensive consultation period with industry on the Government’s Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement discussion paper.
“The proposed reporting requirement will ensure large businesses and other entities operating in Australia publish annual statements outlining their actions to address this crime.
“It will support the business community to respond more effectively to modern slavery, raise business awareness of the issue and create a level playing field for business to share information about what they are doing to eliminate modern slavery.
“Importantly, it will also encourage business to use their market influence to improve workplace standards and practices.
“Large businesses, peak bodies, investors and civil society have already voiced support for Government to take action on this issue through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.
“The Coalition Government is committed to continuing to work with these stakeholders to ensure the final legislation is as simple, sensible and effective as possible.
“We will also carefully consider any recommendations coming out of the Committee’s report on this important issue.”
Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee, Federal Member for Dunkley Chris Crewther welcomed the announcement.
“I am proud that the Coalition Government has today announced its intention to legislate for a supply chain reporting requirement for large businesses, a central repository for statements, and launching a national consultation process,” Mr Crewther said.
“This consultation, in conjunction with the inquiry I am Chairing, will help determine the final content of the proposed legislation to combat modern slavery, something which should no longer exist in today’s world.”
It is an unacceptable reality that millions of people are trapped in modern slavery. The International Labour Organisation estimates 21 million people worldwide are being exploited through forced labour, with more than half in the Asia Pacific region.
Australia has one of the strongest responses to modern slavery in the world, including tough criminal offences, dedicated teams within the Australian Federal Police and a Government-funded support program for victims. This legislation will build on our record.
The consultation paper is available online at the modern slavery consultation page on the Attorney-General’s Department website. The deadline for submissions is 20 October 2017.