Modern Slavery proposal will do little to stop exploitation

Modern Slavery proposal will do little to stop exploitation

The peak body for working people has slammed the Turnbull Government’s compromise on modern slavery as inadequate and ineffective.

The Turnbull Government’s proposed plan ignores the key recommendations of the Senate’s Hidden in Plain Sight report. It has failed to appoint an Independent Commissioner, instead preferring a “Business Engagement Unit” within Peter Dutton’s department.

By failing to require that companies that don’t report or provide misleading information are penalised they have ensured that companies won’t take the legislation seriously.

They have also chosen not to take one of the most effective measure available to them – withholding government procurement money from companies who’ve failed to show that they are taking action on slavery within their supply chains.

The material so far released contains no mentioned of redress or compensation for victims of slavery.

The $100 million threshold for companies to report means that only the largest companies will be asked to report.

Quotes attributable to ACTU International and Civil Society Associate Director Andrea Maksimovic:

"The failure to appoint an Independent Commissioner is deeply concerning. It was a key recommendation of the Senate's Hidden in Plain Sight report, which the Turnbull Government has walked away from. Putting this responsibility into the hands of Peter Dutton will simply ensure that companies get a free pass.

"There is no mention of penalties for companies who failed to investigate, report and take action slavery within their supply chains. For a reporting system to work, there must be penalties for failing to disclose and act on slavery.

“It is particularly galling that the government sees no apparent problem with giving public procurement funds to companies profiting from slavery in their supply chains. As it stands this proposal is nothing short of a voluntary initiative. What we need is tough requirements that will make companies sit up and pay attention.

“We hope that Malcolm Turnbull and his government will listen to the voices of victim advocates when a draft bill is released.”

Media Contact: Lachlan Williams 0447 682 027 (ACTU) or ACTU Media 03 9664 7315