Modern Slavery Act lacks authority to stamp out abusive labour practices

6th Aug 2018

The proposed Modern Slavery Act lacks the authority to effectively combat modern slavery or forced labour practices, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has told the Inquiry into the Modern Slavery Bill (2018).

“We strongly support a Modern Slavery Act for Australia,” said Noor Blumer, National President, ALA. “However the proposed legislation needs stronger oversight and compliance measures. Without these measures, the legislation will fail to stamp out abusive labour practices.”

The ALA argues that for the Bill to be effective there must be strong sanctions and penalties for organisations that do not comply or do not report.

“A mandatory reporting requirement is only going to be effective if there are penalties for non-compliance,” said Ms Blumer.

The proposed Bill only applies to companies with a consolidated revenue of $100 million or more for the reporting year. The ALA recommends that this is revised so that companies with an annual revenue of $50 million or more are required to report on their labour practices.

“A threshold amount of $50 million would provide greater opportunity to influence the supply chains of a much larger group of entities operating in Australia, and make the legislation far more effective in influencing the abusive employment practices of offshore suppliers,” said Ms Blumer.

The ALA is also concerned that there is no provision within the Bill to establish an independent Anti-Slavery Commission.

“An independent Anti-Slavery Commission would be helpful to ensure independent evaluation of the Act and its effectiveness, and for making businesses more transparent about the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains and more accountable in terms of how these risks are being addressed.”

The ALA submission to the Inquiry can be read here: