Insights / May 26th, 2022

A new Government – what does it mean for modern slavery compliance?

The Labor Government winning the 2022 Federal Election means a host of legislative changes, including strengthening laws on modern slavery that may come with penalties for non-compliance.

Throughout its campaign, Labor consistently referenced the fact that whilst over 90% of Australian business have identified potential slavery risks in their supply chains, around 85% of the company statements lodged in the first reporting period failed to demonstrate any response to actual or alleged slavery.

The Labor Government has identified that a stronger legislative framework is likely to push businesses to take a more active and engaged stance to ensure that their requirements are met.  As part of this change, Labor will appoint an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and establish an office within the Attorney-General’s Department aimed at eliminating modern slavery.  Part of the Commissioner’s role will be to publicise an annual list of countries, regions, industries and products with a high risk of modern slavery and forced labour.

Perhaps more front of mind for large entities is Labor's intention to introduce penalties for businesses that failure to comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2018, which is likely to see significant amendment and a bolstering of reporting requirements.

Labor has also committed to publicly disclosing results from an audit of the federal government’s procurement procedures and supply chains, with an aim to provide transparency and demonstrate the importance of developing an auditing framework.

These changes are intended to hold entities accountable to having transparency and understanding of what happens beyond an organisational level in its supply chains.  If you need help developing a plan or process to address these issues, please reach out to Emma Peters or another member of our ESG team.

This publication has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only and does not constitute professional legal advice.  You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional legal advice.  No representation or warranty (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication and to the extent permitted by law, Cowell Clarke does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting or refraining to act in relation on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.