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  • Ethical supply chains are under the spotlight as the Commonwealth and New South Wales legislatures move to increase transparency about modern slavery.
  • A penalty of up to $1.1 million applies under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) for failing to prepare and publish a modern slavery statement, or providing false or misleading information in connection with it.
  • There are some difficulties posed by the current Commonwealth Bill in relation to the NSW Act, which may mean some organisations are exempt. It is hoped that these problems will be remedied when debate on the Bill resumes on 13 August.
  • Regardless, commercial entities with a presence in NSW and a turnover of not less than $50 million should start preparing now to ensure they comply with the new requirements.

The spectre of ‘modern slavery’ is real. According to the Global Slavery Index of 2016 (yes, there is such a thing), an estimated 45.8 million people worldwide and 4,300 people in Australia are victims of slavery, with migrants at particular risk of exploitation.

In response to this critical situation, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) (‘NSW Act’) was passed through NSW Parliament on 21 June 2018, and is yet to commence.

The NSW Act defines ‘modern slavery’ as committing, attempting to commit or inciting a range of offences in the Crimes Act 1900 (Cth), Human Tissue Act 1983 (NSW) and Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), including slavery, servitude, forced labour, human trafficking, debt bondage and sexual servitude.

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