Australian slavery laws coming
Federal Labor wants legislation to force companies to make sure they are not linked to slavery.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten wants to set up an Anti-Slavery Commissioner and legislation covering the entire supply chain of products sold in Australia.
There are an estimated 21 million people in slavery around the world today, generating around $150 billion each year.
Many of the goods and services that Australians use every day are produced by people in slavery, where it is estimated around 4,300 people are trapped by criminal syndicates in forced prostitution or other work.
The Business Council, the union movement and the Salvation Army are already pushing for slavery legislation in Australia.
They want laws forcing big companies to ensure no business is directly or indirectly engaged in slavery.
Mr Shorten says his plan would force companies to report on their supply chain and apply penalties if they fail.
The Turnbull Government is already working on plans for modern slavery legislation, looking at existing laws operating in the UK which include an anti-slavery commissioner.
A parliamentary committee should report by the end of the year.
A bipartisan delegation travelled to the UK for a modern slavery workshop last year, where they met with delegates from nations including Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“It is broadly acknowledged that [slavery is more likely] if you are engaged in certain industries, particularly if you are supplying from overseas, if you have many tiers to your supply chain, if that supply chain includes migrant workers, vulnerable workers and certain forms of manual labour,” says Adam Carrel from the Business Council.
“The evidence has shown it is something of an inevitability that there is going to be some form of human rights abuse or modern slavery in your supply chain.”
He said the most common form of modern slavery is the exploitation of migrant workers by brokers.