Modern slavery days away from being unlawful in NSW


Late last night the Modern Slavery Bill passed the NSW Upper House meaning it is one step closer to becoming law. Critical amendments that were put into the bill by the Upper House are now being considered by the Lower House. All parties in the parliament are committed to seeing this law in force by 1 January 2022.

The amended bill establishes an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to investigate and report on modern slavery in NSW. It also requires the NSW Government, NSW Government agencies and Local Councils to remove their supply chains any goods or services that are produced in whole or in part by modern slavery.

Last night's vote follows the abandonment by the Government of the original Modern Slavery Bill which passed Parliament in 2018 but was never implemented.

Greens amendments have secured critically important changes to the scheme.

*        We ensured the Anti-slavery commissioner is genuinely independent, full time, and appropriately resourced

*        Given the serious issues identified in seasonal workers in NSW we gave the Anti-slavery commissioner the power to investigate whether there are reasonable grounds to suspect any practices involving the use of seasonal workers constitute modern slavery

*        Our amendments expanded the scheme to include Local Councils in NSW meaning they must take reasonable steps to ensure that goods and services procured by council are not the product of modern slavery and must report on their progress on this, and

*        We also ensured the NSW Parliament was covered by the scheme.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: "It's extraordinary that in 2021 we're still working to put in place laws that finally get slavery out of supply chains.

"There can't be any more excuses from any side of politics, we have a collective obligation to ensure we have modern anti-sl;avery laws in place from 1 January 2022.

"We are grateful that the Greens' amendments to expand the role of the Anti-slavery commissioner to cover seasonal workers were adopted.

"The abuse of Pacific seasonal workers is a highly visible example of gross exploitation and the labour hire firms, and minority of farmers, that abuse these vulnerable workers need to be accountable.

"We need to act on this in NSW because the Federal Government has comprehensively failed to address the exploitation of these workers.

"To date the Government has dragged its heels on this aspect of the law, but these workers are clearly in desperate need for someone to step up and help sort this out.

"The final version of this bill is the result of sustained advocacy by many people over years, and significant collaboration between parties to get a workable result.

"We're committed to getting this law passed and in force from 1 January 2022 and will continue to work collaboratively across the parliament to get this done," Mr Shoebridge said.

The complete schedule of amendments is here.