NSW has finally passed the Modern Slavery Bill 2021 with Greens amendments that make it a world leading scheme to get forced and child labour out of supply chains.
After three years of political brinkmanship, the scheme will now cover the NSW Government, which is the largest single purchasing entity in the whole country. Greens amendments also extended this to all local councils in NSW. Greens amendments also ensured a fully independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner who can investigate, report and drive critical reforms to get slavery out of supply chains.
A number of critical amendments relating to protecting seasonal agricultural workers and covering private sector supply chains were unfortunately removed but will be a key focus for reform going forward.
The passage of the bill is a result of sustained advocacy from groups including the International Justice Network, Be Slavery Free, faith groups and human rights campaigners.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: "After years of delay, NSW is finally getting laws in place to tackle slavery in what the State Government buys as the largest procurer of goods and services in Australia.
"There are an estimated 40 million people in Modern Slavery around the world, and this law will ensure we are not contributing to this with public spending.
"The passage of this bill is the result of sustained advocacy by many people over years, and significant collaboration between parties to get a workable result.
"Clearly there is still more to do. We're disappointed that Greens amendments to empower the Anti-Slavery commissioner to investigate the exploitation of Pacific seasonal workers were removed by the government.
"Seasonal workers in the agricultural sector are some of the most vulnerable workers in the country and we will continue to press for the Anti-Slavery Commissioner's powers to extend to that sector.
"The exclusion of the private sector from these laws is also disappointing, especially given how weak the federal anti-slavery laws are.
"Even with the compromises needed to see the laws passed, this outcome today remains a major step forward for human and workplace rights and takes NSW one step closer to being genuinely slavery-free," Mr Shoebridge said.