Australia must develop 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.
A 21st-century global economy must have no place for this fundamentally immoral practice. Businesses must not tolerate modern slavery anywhere in their supply chains, in Australia or overseas.
The Business Council’s Annual Forum in Canberra was last month briefed on the scale of the problem by Andrew Forrest, the chairman of Fortescue Metals Group and a prominent advocate for eradicating modern slavery.
According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, an estimated 45.8 million people around the world are in some form of modern slavery, which describes a range of exploitative practices including human trafficking and forced labour.
It is pleasing to see the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade commence an inquiry into possible legislation similar to the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act. The Business Council’s members are eager to consult with parliament about the most effective ways to combat modern slavery. One option is for companies to state publicly that they are monitoring their supply chains for modern slavery and will report any cases to the Australian people.
Depending on the approach that parliament decides, the Business Council would pursue this approach as a unified, voluntary commitment for all its members.
Business Council of Australia