MPs call for new laws to tackle slavery

The report aims to better protect seasonal workers (Bigstock)

Australia needs a comprehensive suite of new laws to stamp out modern slavery, a federal committee's report tabled in parliament has found, ABC News reports.

The report by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade's inquiry was tabled in parliament yesterday.

It adds details to its earlier recommendations released in August.

The committee recommended provisions for a mandatory supply chain reporting requirement that requires large businesses to report on modern slavery risks in their supply chains.

Despite arguments from big business that the threshold should be greater than $100 million for mandatory reporting, the committee has recommended the threshold of $50 million in revenue.

"If you are a Woolworths or Coles and you're sourcing a product, you need to look into your supply chain to ensure there is no modern slavery practices or labour exploitation, or debt bondage," said Chris Crewther, chair of the committee.

"That will ensure there are not operators out there producing goods at a lower cost by doing the wrong thing, which puts out producers doing the right thing."

The Walk Free Foundation estimated in 2016, 45.8 million people worldwide were trapped in some form of slavery.

The report recommended a national compensation scheme for victims of modern slavery.

The new legislation will reach out to overseas orphanages to protect the 80 per cent of orphan children who, in reality, have a family. Overseas residential care agencies would have to register with the Australian government, and Australians who wished to donate or volunteer would be able to check the register.

Labour hire contractors would have to be licensed to tackle the problem of coerced or debt bonded workers living in slave-like conditions.

Attention has been given to Pacific islanders who have been exposed to exploitation through the federal government-sanctioned seasonal worker program.

The committee believes it will go down as one of the landmark reports of this parliament that will help tackle modern slavery in Australia and around the world.


Modern slavery to be targeted in a new laws recommended by Australian parliamentary committee (ABC News)


Inquiry recommends slavery act, commissioner (Sky News Australia)

Australia needs new watchdog to tackle slavery, parliamentary inquiry says (The Guardian)

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