“Without reporting requirements, we are failing people being exploited by modern slavery and letting businesses using modern slavery off the hook.
Shadow special minister of state John Graham questioned why the government was watering down the bill and removing mandatory reporting requirements and penalties.
“The government backed the original Modern Slavery Bill, and the former premier co-sponsored it. They then refused to implement it for 1,211 days,” he said.
“The bill is back without the requirements for NSW businesses to report on their supply chains. Any NSW business reporting requirements and their related penalties are gone.”
The original act passed in mid-2018, but has been stalled for years due to legal and constitutional concerns within the government.
The NSW version originally went further than Commonwealth legislation, which has a $100 million reporting cap, by establishing an anti-slavery commissioner as well as penalties for businesses.
Mr Harwin last Thursday said NSW businesses would still be subject to the Commonwealth cap, and could also voluntarily report if they fell below it.
Mr Baird said the government’s changes to the act meant it did not go far enough, and said it was integral that state-owned corporations and local governments were captured by the legislation.
“While there are some important elements included in the government’s legislation, it simply does not go far enough,” he said.
The letter from religious leaders, including the Archbishop of the Sydney Anglican Diocese Reverend Kanishka Raffel, who is also the NSW Council of Churches president, said the COVID-19 pandemic had increased the urgency for the legislation to finally become law after more than three years.
“We implore you to endorse the act once again, and to immediately introduce appropriate amendments to the Parliament that will finally see the NSW Modern Slavery Act proclaimed and commenced,” the letter said.
A parliamentary inquiry was established to review the act in 2019 and later recommended the government make several amendments and bring the laws into effect by the beginning of this year.
The NSW government spokeswoman said the state would continue to advocate for the Commonwealth to adopt a yearly consolidated revenue reporting threshold of $50 million.
“There is already a Commonwealth scheme, and it is appropriate that the Commonwealth’s supply chain reporting scheme cover the field. There is little benefit in requiring the NSW private sector to comply with two duplicative schemes.”
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