8 July 2019

Last week Australia’s first modern slavery reporting period commenced. It will require about 3000 businesses to make an annual statement explaining what they are doing to address the risk of slavery in their supply chains — but other than finger-wagging, companies face no real penalties. A former UK anti-slavery commissioner who helped draft the Australian law says it is too weak: “There need to be sanctions. There also need to be situations where any profit that comes from slavery needs to become tainted money and taken away from the business… [A]ny profit should be taken away to compensate these kids and pay reparations.” When the government starts pushing for tougher penalties against unions that break administrative rules in fighting for workplace safety, remember that it wants companies that profit from slavery to face no punishment. (The NSW Parliament has passed a tougher law that applies to more businesses and includes penalties for non-compliance, but a year later the Berejiklian Government still refuses to enforce it.)