As he launched a new report warning of the implications of COVID-19 on forced labour on Wednesday, Archbishop Anthony Fisher labelled the government a “disgrace”.
“Disgrace and dishonour it has been that for many years our community was blind, deaf and mute to the problem of modern slavery and human trafficking. But how much more disgraceful and dishonourable after it has publicly recognised this evil, moved to eradicate it from our supply chains and by other action, and then thwarted such measures apparently so businesses and consumers may continue to benefit from slavery. “I didn’t dream that a law, passed by both houses of our state Parliament and given the Royal assent, with wide public support and in keeping with the best of our Christian anti-slavery and secular human right traditions, would be blocked from coming into force by a democratic government.”
NSW Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Act 2018. “NSW was offering the nation and the world a lead in this, by holding to a higher standard than many,” said Fisher. “Yet here we are, two years later, and that law has still not come into force.”
The International Labour Organisation estimates there are “more than 40 million people in modern slavery conditions worldwide.”
An official NSW government anti-slavery website adds that thousands of those are affected in Australia.
“Modern slavery is a hidden problem and a devastating reality for men, women and children around the world, and here in NSW,” the NSW government website states. “In 2018, NSW legislated against modern slavery to help stamp out these practises.”
The NSW government announced a parliamentary inquiry into the act after it was passed. That inquiry supported the enactment of the act by January 1 2021 (with some amendments).
The Australian Catholic Anti-Slavery Network report has warned that vulnerable workers are finding themselves increasingly insecure because of the economic downturn resulting from the current pandemic.
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Corrine Barraclough has a journalism career spanning 20 years, including senior positions at national magazines in London, New York & Sydney. She embraced the whirlwind of celebrity and entertainment journalism and the heady lifestyle that went with it before walking away from it all to live on the Gold Coast and pursue a balanced life.
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