Finally some action is happening. Parliament met yesterday (24th Sept 2020) to discuss the NSW Modern Slavery Act. As a result the 17 recommendations that an earlier enquiry made, were addressed. This piece of legislation is critical for human rights and it has been delayed by over two years …… so far.
Incredibly there is going to be more talking!
The outcome is that, “the NSW Government will commence discussions with the Commonwealth to achieve greater harmonisation with the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018.” Therefore, the response to most of the 17 recommendations is exactly the same: “Supported in Principle – subject to harmonisation discussions with the Commonwealth”
EVERY SINGLE DAY around 25,000 people go into slavery. So the two year delay, so far, has meant over 18million more people are in slavery. And that figure has not taken into account the dire plight of COVID on most countries now and supply chains being cut and orders being cancelled. You can read about the impact on children here.
Let’s hope these “harmonisation discussions” don’t take another two years. Every day of delay has serious implications ON LIVES.
You can read yesterday’s response to the 17 Recommendations here.
The Good News
The good news is, that we are finally moving forward. Many thought the NSW MSA was over. But we are very grateful that it is going ahead.
We think EVERY business should want to end slavery. And every business should do their bit to help end it. How can we sleep at night knowing parents are being forced into selling their children so they don’t starve? Can shareholders really want profits more than ending this shameful crime? Maybe they just trust their investment portfolios and the companies they buy from are not dealing with slavery. But this is either denial or naivety. Transparency from all businesses is a must. However, having a law to ensure all large businesses are transparent is a great step forward and it will have impact.
How you can Help
With URGENCY being the KEY to getting this pushed through, we highly recommend every NSW person signs the NSW e-petition.
Here is how you do this. PLEASE, please, please be proactive with this. Our government takes action with loud voices, and the more we have on this petition the louder the voice.
The Back Story so Far
Now if you want the long back story on this piece of legislation and why it has not gone ahead; here is an excerpt from an email sent out to Anti-slavery Activists from a member of parliament of New South Wales, in May this year……
“… the Modern Slavery Act 2018 was passed by the Parliament on 21st June 2018. The Premier the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP in her speech on the bill to the Legislative Assembly on 6th June 2018 said: “It is not every day that members of this place or the other put forward something that will have a positive impact for literally thousands of people …”
Further in her contribution she said:
“There is an undeniable moral imperative to take action in relation to all forms of modern slavery.”
When it finally passed the Legislative Council after much debate and a number of amendments there was a great sense of achievement felt by all who had worked together to bring about the passage of the legislation. A significant new law had been passed by the Parliament of the largest state in the Commonwealth that when enacted, would play an important role in tackling the scourge of modern slavery and human trafficking. The bill had been brought into the Parliament by the Hon. Paul Green MLC and after detailed negotiations with the Government, support was given for its passage. The Opposition and various cross-bench parties had been supportive of the legislation from its very inception.
However, what followed its passage was one of the most shameful and cynical actions of any government in recent times. Having passed the Parliament the legislation was promptly forwarded to the Governor to receive Royal Assent which it did on 27th June 2018. But then, instead of taking the final step and having the new law proclaimed, the Government without telling anybody hit pause. The hitting of pause at that final moment meant that without proclamation the Modern Slavery Act 2018 would not pass onto the statute books.
In effect it had been placed into the deep freezer.
Many people including myself consider this action deceitful and a most egregious breach of trust. It was no accident, it was a decision consciously and deliberately made by Cabinet to thwart both the procedures and the will of the Parliament.
The truth of the matter is that it took several months before it was clearly established that the Government had hijacked the legislation. It was not until May 2019 that the Government finally admitted that it had not proclaimed the legislation and that the matter was in limbo.
The inquiry into the Modern Slavery Act 2018 and associated matters has been completed and its report tabled on 25th March 2020. Those interested in reading the report, its recommendations and the related documents can find them on the inquiry’s webpage https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2546.”
Moving this Legislation Forward
So there you have the crazy details, the battle for a basic human rights legislation in NSW and why the parliament finally met yesterday.
Watch this space as we will keep you update.
If you want to find out more here are a couple of blogs we have written on the subject:
Find out how The Freedom Hub can help you write a Modern Slavery Statement
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