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Modern Slavery Bill 2018

The submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in relation to its inquiry into the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 was prepared by the Law Council. 

The Law Council considers addressing modern slavery to be of paramount importance and has previously made submissions related to this issue, including to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, the Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Inquiry into Human Trafficking, and the Committee’s Inquiry into Slavery, Slavery-like conditions and People Trafficking.

The Law Council also published a report in conjunction with Anti-Slavery Australia on Establishing a National Compensation Scheme for Victims of Commonwealth Crime in relation to victims of human trafficking.

The Law Council congratulates the Government on the introduction of the Bill and welcomes the proposed inclusion of a modern slavery reporting requirement for corporations and other entities operating in Australia. The Law Council is pleased to note improvements to the model proposed for reporting requirements in 2017, including that the Government will be subject to the reporting requirements, and that the ‘worst forms of child labour’ is included in the definition of ‘modern slavery’.

There are, however, notable areas for improvement to increase the prospects of the Bill and the subsequent proposed regulatory framework creating a culture of compliance and a ‘race to the top’. The Law Council’s two major concerns are that the revenue threshold for attracting the reporting requirements ($100 million) is set too high to achieve the Bill’s stated aims, and the lack of penalties in the legislation for noncompliance with the reporting requirements means there is little incentive for entities to report.

The Law Council recommends that the threshold be revised to $60 million, and the legislation be amended to include financial penalties for non-compliance, and/or a requirement that entities bidding for Government contracts must be up-to-date on reporting, if required to report. At the very least, these should be matters for express consideration when the legislation is reviewed in three years.

You can the full submission below.

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