By Konica Minolta 20 Jun 2017

A Modern Slavery Act for Australia?

The Federal Parliament Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade is conducting an Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.  The Inquiry will examine if legislation, similar to the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, will strengthen Australia’s response to modern slavery, including provisions on supply chain transparency.

Konica Minolta welcomes the Inquiry and the Sub-Committee’s attention to multi-stakeholder consultation. As of mid-June 2017 there are 185 submissions posted to the Inquiry website. Of these 17 are from large companies, including Konica Minolta, and more than 20 represent the view of industry and business associations and related entities. Based on these submissions, it is evident that Australian businesses support smart regulation on modern slavery, including supply chain transparency.

An Australian Modern Slavery Act holds the potential to:

  • minimise risk to vulnerable workers in Australia and the Asia Pacific (APAC) region;
  • increase awareness amongst and galvanise action towards ending slavery among Australian businesses and Australian business leaders;
  • create a level playing field among business where respect for human rights is a minimum standard;
  • ensure reporting coherence on transparency in supply chain (TISC) provisions, and enable the Australian government to advocate on behalf of Australian businesses for international reporting coherence on TISC provisions;
  • increase the legitimacy and leverage of Australian businesses to engage suppliers, particularly in the APAC region;
  • assist business by providing best practice examples, which enables companies to learn from the success of others and progress efforts to combat slavery more effectively;
  • ensure Australian businesses remain competitive and meet international norms and standards on human rights; and
  • reinforce Australia’s commitment to promoting and respecting human rights.

We made the following recommendations to the Inquiry:  

  1. The Australian Government establishes a Modern Slavery Act that at a minimum:
    • Includes a TISC reporting provision, or similar, that requires large organisations to disclose steps taken to eradicate modern slavery from their own business and supply chain;
    • Provides a government maintained and publically accessible repository for all company disclosures; and
    • Ensures reporting coherence with other jurisdictions. 
  2. Appoint an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, similar to the UK.
  3. Provide guidance on the Act that outlines expectations for both companies captured by the reporting threshold and their suppliers. 
  4. Where relevant, provide guidance to business or create a platform for business to collaborate and collectively address modern slavery risks.
  5. Support research on prevalence of modern slavery in different sectors in Australia.

Konica Minolta will be appearing before the Inquiry hearing on 23 June, 2017.

Download a full copy of our submission.

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