MEDIA RELEASE: Business Council of Australia supports changes to modern slavery legislation

The Walk Free Foundation today welcomed the Business Council of Australia’s statement of support for the adoption of Australian legislation to combat modern slavery.

Mr Andrew Forrest, Founder of the Walk Free Foundation and Chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, will today address the BCA in Canberra and call on Australia’s business sector to throw the weight of their support behind an Australian Modern Slavery Act.

Mr Forrest said “I want to commend the Business Council of Australia and its members for taking such a strong stance on ending modern slavery. This is one of the most critical issues of our times, and I am heartened that our country’s business leaders are prepared to address it.”

“It is unacceptable that the crimes of modern slavery continue to this day, whether it takes the form of eating seafood caught by enslaved Thai fishermen, or buying smart phones manufactured in Malaysia produced by forced labour.”

“As a business leader, I want to strongly encourage other business leaders to consider the critical role that companies can play in the fight against modern slavery. From my experience with Fortescue, I know that businesses are often exposed to this crime through their procurement and supply operations overseas.”

“We need legislation that is non-punitive but that holds all large businesses to account. We must ensure that CEOs are encouraged to go looking for instances of modern slavery throughout their businesses.”

“The Australian Government has the opportunity show real leadership throughout the Asia Pacific region by enacting legislation similar to the UK Modern Slavery Act.”

Last month the Federal Government announced a Parliamentary inquiry into whether Australia should adopt a “Modern Slavery Act”. The inquiry will investigate prevalence of modern slavery in Australia and review international best practices when investigating supply chains for modern slavery.

The Business Council of Australia is a forum for the chief executives of Australia’s largest companies to promote economic growth and social progress in the national interest.

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