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In order to assist Catholics in casting their vote at the upcoming federal election, the Archdiocese of Sydney provided parties with a list of questions relating to a number of important issues for Catholics in this election. Their responses are provided here in full.

Australia has, for the past decade, had a dismal record of investigating and prosecuting slavery cases. There are thousands of unidentified victims of slavery in Australia. How does your party propose to increase victims’ access to justice and eradicate from Australia goods and services tainted by criminal exploitation, forced labour and slavery?

Slavery is one of the most heinous human rights abuses there is. There are more people trapped in slavery in the world today than there have been at any other time in human history. As a country, we simply must do more, and an effective, strong Modern Slavery Act is part of that battle.

Labor believes that the Modern Slavery Act does not go far enough to stop this sickening crime. The Liberal and National party members under the leadership of Mr Abbott, Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison, have consistently opposed our calls to introduce penalties for big businesses that breach the Modern Slavery Act, and they refuse to establish an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to help victims of slavery right here in Australia.

Tackling slavery and exploitation is key to Labor’s mission.

A Shorten Labor Government will introduce penalties into the Modern Slavery Act. We cannot leave it to big business to police themselves on slavery.

Labor will also introduce an Independent Commissioner to assist victims trapped in slavery in our towns and cities, and to lead our nation’s fight against this practice within our region.

Labor is leading the fight against slavery. We called for the Modern Slavery Act, we fought for the Modern Slavery Act and if elected we will strengthen the Modern Slavery Act.


We oppose sexual slavery and expect state and federal law enforcement authorities to prosecute all instances of (predominantly) women being tricked or forced into prostitution. We are wary of the unintended consequences and costs of demanding that Australian businesses invest resources that could – say – be used to employ Australians – in investigating every element of their overseas supply chains for potentially broadly defined concerns about ‘exploitation’.


The Australian Greens were critical in ensuring the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 was enacted into law last year. The government made it clear the Senate that should any amendments be made to the bill, they would not bring it back on for debate in the House. So we passed the bill, unamended, as a good and important first step to stamping out modern slavery in Australian businesses and supply chains. However, we also put on the record that we would pursue further amendments to the legislation once enacted, including: the establishment of an independent statutory Anti-Slavery Commissioner; rolling three-year reviews of the Modern Slavery Act that would be conducted by the Anti-Slavery Commissioner; a lower threshold for compliance in the Act; penalties for breaches of the Act; for Government agencies to be included in the Act; and for the provision of an online public register of compliance statements.

These measures would ensure more incidents of modern slavery were identified and eradicated – not just the worst cases by the biggest culprits – and that the Act remained fit for purpose in changing markets and business practices. The Australian Greens have also called on the Parliament to consider the need, scope, and application of a national victim support and compensation scheme as part of the next tranche of modern slavery legislation in Australia.

The Australian Greens have also budgeted for significant increases based on actual need to community legal assistance services, as per the recommendations of the Productivity Commission and Law Council of Australia, because access to justice shouldn’t be dependent on the size of your wallet.


 

Australia continues to be a global leader in combatting modern slavery with the Morrison Government last year passing the Modern Slavery Act 2018.

The Government has now launched the modern slavery draft guidance for large businesses operating in the Australian market. Public feedback on the draft guidance is now being taken and will help refine the final version of the guidance.

The guidance will assist businesses in the preparation of their annual Modern Slavery Statements which are first due from 2020.

The Coalition also established Taskforce Cadena, a multi-agency taskforce to detect and disrupt criminal syndicates that profit from the criminal exploitation of foreign workers and Australia’s migration system.


 

In 2018 One Nation voted for the legislation addressing modern slavery.