Media Release

1 January 2021

NSW Labor has condemned the Berejiklian Government’s failure to implement the NSW Modern Slavery Act from 1 January 2021 as recommended by a Parliamentary Inquiry.

More than two years after the legislation passed the Parliament in 2018 the Premier has again failed to bring this law into force. It follows a recommendation from the Standing Committee on Social Issues that the Act should have commenced today on 1 January 2021.

NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay urged the Government to implement the Act without further delay.

“This is a significant piece of legislation, it passed both houses of Parliament with bipartisan support and needs to become law.

“It provides important protections across the community and helps us tackle modern slavery across the supply chain.

“All it takes is the stroke of a pen by the Premier to proclaim this bill but over two years on we are still waiting. We could have been a leader in modern slavery protection in the world, instead we’re left without a state law.

“Every day this law sits idle is a day the most vulnerable in our society are at risk. This goes against the will of the Parliament and goes against the expectations of the community.”

The NSW Modern Slavery Act would require companies with a turnover of more than $50 million to publicly report modern slavery statements, including details of the steps taken to eliminate slavery from supply chains.

Unlike Commonwealth anti-slavery laws, the NSW legislation includes strong compliance measures and a powerful Anti-Slavery Commissioner

The Legislative Council has voted 22-14 to regard a failure to commence the Act by 1 January 2021 as contempt of the House and to hold the Leader of the Government in Upper House accountable when Parliament returns.

“There’s no excuse for the Premier’s inaction, any delay risks green-lighting these appalling practices. If the Government has not acted by the time Parliament resumes, we will take action.” — Adam Searle MLC, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council

The latest development follows work by Labor Members of Parliament throughout 2020 to convene a virtual rally of around 100 organisations and a community petition that received over 10,000 signatures.

Ms McKay concluded, “I want to thank my colleagues in both Houses of Parliament and our partners across the community for the work they are doing to raise this important issue.”