Statements of in-principle support and considerations

A Modern Slavery Act

4.2
The Committee gives in-principle support for developing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia, including mandatory supply chain reporting requirements for companies, businesses, organisations and governments and an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. The Committee notes that it will consider other elements of a potential Modern Slavery Act in its final report, including prevention measures, support for victims, improvements to Australia’s visa regime and prevention of orphanage tourism, as well as other recommended changes to Australian law, policy and practices to combat modern slavery.

Support for supply chain reporting

4.6
The Committee gives in-principle support for mandatory annual modern slavery supply chain reporting requirements to apply, above a particular threshold, to companies, businesses, organisations (including religious organisations) and governments operating in Australia.
4.7
The Committee gives in-principle support for a requirement that the Board (or equivalent level of a company, business, organisation or government) approve modern slavery statements.

Support for the UK model

4.11
The Committee gives in-principle support to key elements of the UK model of supply chain reporting and will continue to investigate possible improvements to this model in its final report.

Proposed principles for Australian legislation

Consistency with international jurisdictions and best practice

4.13
The Committee gives in-principle support for ensuring that any supply chain reporting requirement be consistent with international jurisdictions and best practice, including Australia’s obligations under international law.

Repository of statements

4.16
The Committee gives in-principle support for the establishment of a legislated and government-funded central repository containing modern slavery statements. The Committee is of the view that the Australian Government should work with existing modern slavery registries to create a combined and consistent registry to which statements can be submitted to prevent unnecessary duplication.
4.17
The Committee will further consider whether a modern slavery central repository should sit under the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner or elsewhere, noting the comments by the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner on this matter outlined in Chapter 3.
4.18
The Committee will further consider whether it should be made compulsory for a company, business, organisation or government to publish their modern slavery statement on their website and/or in their annual report.

Threshold for reporting

4.21
The Committee gives in-principle support for a threshold to be introduced, above which companies, organisations, businesses and governments must report on modern slavery in their supply chains. The exact threshold will be considered further in the Committee’s final report.
4.22
The Committee gives in-principle support for the introduction of an opt-in option to allow companies, businesses, organisations and governments below the threshold to undertake supply chain reporting on modern slavery.
4.23
The Committee gives in-principle support for ensuring that the proposed reporting requirement enables businesses, companies, organisations and governments that are part of a supply chain to provide a single statement of compliance to multiple clients.

Prescribing reporting requirements

4.28
The Committee will further consider prescriptive requirements for what statements include. Notwithstanding, it is of the view that the Modern Slavery Act outline at minimum what statements should include, in addition to allowing for innovation in reporting. The Committee is also of the view that guidelines should also be produced consistent with international best practice. These issues will be considered further in the Committee’s final report.
4.29
The Committee is of the view that its final report further consider due diligence requirements, as suggested by a number of submitters and witnesses.

Guidance for businesses

4.31
The Committee gives in-principle support for a broad definition of modern slavery to be included in the Modern Slavery Act, to help guide companies, businesses, organisations and governments on what to look for within their supply chains, including, but not limited to, forced labour, child labour, bonded labour, human trafficking, domestic servitude, orphanage trafficking, sex trafficking, forced marriage, slavery and other slavery-like practices. A full non-exhaustive list of terms will be considered in the Committee’s final report.
4.32
The Committee gives in-principle support for the Australian Government to fund public awareness raising, information and training about modern slavery and modern slavery in supply chains, particularly for companies and businesses, as well as for front-line services, departments and embassies.
4.33
The Committee gives in-principle support for lists of at-risk industries, at-risk areas and at-risk groups in Australia and within Australian supply chains to be published by the Australian Government.
4.34
The Committee gives in-principle support for the Australian Government to publish a list of companies, organisations, businesses and governments to which the Modern Slavery Act supply chain reporting requirements apply.

Penalties and compliance measures

4.37
The Committee gives in-principle support for the Australian Government to mandate reporting for companies, businesses, organisations and governments above the threshold, with penalties applying for those that do not report or do not report in compliance with the Modern Slavery Act reporting requirements.
4.38
The Committee does not in-principle support penalties applying to companies, businesses, organisations and governments that look for and do find modern slavery within their supply chains, and are acting to address the issues identified, as this would discourage them looking into their supply chains in the first place.
4.39
The Committee gives in-principle support for the Australian Government to publish a list of companies, businesses, organisations and governments above the threshold that do not comply with the Modern Slavery Act supply chain reporting requirements.
4.40
The Committee gives in-principle support for the Australian Government to publish a list of companies, businesses, organisations and governments above the threshold that are in compliance with modern slavery statements.
4.41
The Committee gives in-principle support for the Australian Government to publish a list of companies, businesses, organisations and governments below the threshold that submitted optional statements to encourage others to report.

Public procurement

4.44
The Committee gives in-principle support for the Australian Government to introduce into its procurement requirements that it only engages with companies, businesses, organisations and other Australian governments that have submitted modern slavery statements. The Committee considers that this would encourage smaller companies to also report via the opt-in option.

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

4.47
The Committee gives in-principle support for Australia establishing in its Modern Slavery Act an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, who would have the ability to consult, advise, report on and make recommendations with respect to modern slavery supply chain reporting. The Committee concurs with the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Law Enforcement on this matter, but notes that the Commissioner should be truly independent of government. The Australian Government could consider incorporating the current People Smuggling and Human Trafficking Ambassador within this role. The possible role of the Commissioner will be considered further in the Committee’s final report.
4.48
The Committee gives in-principle support to a legislated review of an Australian Modern Slavery Act at least every three years. The Committee is of the view that the proposed Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner would be best placed to undertake these reviews, in addition to suggesting other recommended changes outside of the Modern Slavery Act to combat modern slavery.

Further consultation

4.51
The Committee is of the view that its final report should consider, along with supply chains, how to ensure that foreign aid or corporate, business and organisational giving does not directly or indirectly support modern slavery practices, including via aid or giving to foreign governments.
4.52
The Committee is of the view that its final report should consider other measures to combat modern slavery in global supply chains, such as regulating the importation of goods that have been produced using modern slavery, similar to the US Trade Enforcement and Facilitation Act of 2015.
4.53
The Committee is of the view that its final report should consider whether the Australian Government should, at a later stage, introduce a mark that could be used by modern slavery compliant companies, businesses, organisations and governments.
4.54
The Committee will consider and consult further on the statements of inprinciple support above, leading up to the final report. The Committee will consider additional supply chain and other elements of a Modern Slavery Act in its final report, as well as other changes necessary to combat modern slavery in Australia.

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