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AFN welcomes Modern Slavery Act announcement

16 August 2017

AFN welcomes Modern Slavery Act announcement

 

MEDIA RELEASE: AFN Welcomes Modern Slavery Act Announcement 


16 August, 2017


The Chair of the Australian Freedom Network (AFN) Salvation Army Commissioner James Condon has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of an Act of Parliament to eradicate modern slavery both here and overseas.

“Today’s announcement by the Minister for Justice the Hon. Michael Keenan MP is a significant breakthrough. A new Act of Parliament will require companies to monitor and take responsibility for their supply chains.

“Thousands of people in Australia and millions across our region are in situations of modern slavery right now.

“They are victims of forced labour, debt bondage, human trafficking and more.

“We are all morally obliged to take whatever steps we can to ensure that the way we do business isn’t making someone else’s life a misery.”

The Federal Government has made a landmark commitment to a Modern Slavery Act for Australia.

“This is a welcome commitment that I and other Australian faith leaders in the Australian Freedom Network have advocated strongly for," said UCA President Stuart McMillan.

"All forms of slavery and forced labour are contrary to the gospel of God’s love in Christ for all human beings and the earth. Churches have a proud history of fighting slavery.

"The Uniting Church will continue to speak out about slavery-like conditions here in Australia and work with our partners to combat slavery in our region.”

Today’s announcement from the Government follows Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s announcement in June in support of legislation to require companies to ensure their products are not the result of slavery and to check on practices in their entire supply chains.

Commissioner Condon said “I congratulate both major parties for demonstrating strong bipartisan support to eradicate modern slavery.”

The Business Council of Australia also issued a statement welcoming the move, saying: “we strongly believe that Australia needs a comprehensive approach, including legislation, to combat modern slavery in all its forms. Increased global trade has delivered great benefits for Australians, but it has also increased the risk that products and services have been tainted by the use of forced labour.”

The announcements by business, Government and the Opposition demonstrate the consensus around whether a Modern Slavery Act similar to one in operation in the UK in 2015, could also be effective in Australia. 

The UK Act requires large businesses to publish an annual statement on the steps they’ve taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in their supply chain - or to declare that no steps to confirm the existence of slavery or trafficking have been taken. The UK also keeps the statements made by more than 10,000 companies in an open data register available to the public which helps hold companies to account.

“The faith leaders in the Australian Freedom Network believe our country needs a Modern Slavery Act, which is why we wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last December to call for one,” said Commissioner Condon.

“We are very grateful that the Government has listened and advanced this proposal.

“Today I restate our faith leaders’ request that the Australian Government adopt world’s best practise legislation to ensure the supply chains of Australian businesses are transparent and free of exploitation or slavery-like practices.

“Australians simply must be assured that the goods they consume and the services they use are not produced on the back of slave labour,” said James Condon.                 

 

View or download the full Media Release as a pdf HERE


Available for comment:

James Condon, Chair, Australian Freedom Network, c/- Alison Rahill, 0429517157

Jenny Stanger, National Manager, The Salvation Army - Freedom Partnership to End Modern Slavery 0402399400

 

Background:

AFN Modern Slavery Act submission:

http://afn.org.au/scribe/sites/afn.org.au/files/Inquiries-MSA-AFN_Submission-20170426.pdf

AFN leaders appear at a hearing before the Modern Slavery Act Inquiry 23 June transcript:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Foreign_Affairs_Defence_and_Trade/ModernSlavery/Public_Hearings and photos https://www.flickr.com/photos/144418511@N04/albums/72157685165413540

AFN hosts UK Anti Slavery Commissioner at NSW Parliament:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/144418511@N04/albums/72157685071907203