(Bloomberg) — Australia should impose penalties on companies that fail to review their supply chains for instances of forced labor, a government ordered review of the nation’s modern slavery laws said.
The evaluation, which comes after more than three years of companies skirting their obligations, also recommends the reporting threshold for firms to make modern slavery disclosures be lowered to A$50 million ($32.5 million) from A$100 million, according to a report tabled in the nation’s parliament Thursday.
Companies should be fined for failing to have an anti-slavery due diligence system in place and providing false or misleading information in their disclosures, the report said in one of its 30 recommendations.
“A widely endorsed view in the consultations for this review is that there is no hard evidence that the Modern Slavery Act in its early years has yet caused meaningful change for people living in conditions of modern slavery,” the report said.
The government will consider the review and consult across industry before formulating its response, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said in a statement.
The review comes as a report this week found that the number of people living in modern slavery conditions has jumped 25% to 50 million over the last five years, with global supply chains run by Group of 20 nations contributing to the rise.
More than a Third of Australia’s Largrated Listed Companies have found to have inadeququate reports, indicating the work isn’t, ALF The People Estimated to Be in Forced and Debt-Bonded Labor Global Located in the Asia-Pacific Region, According to the Walk Free Foundation.
Australia’s laws were among the toughest in the world when initially implemented in 2019, but have since been superseded by the European Union, which may soon require firms to consider human rights violations like worker exploitation and a safe work environment . Imposing penalties for poor disclosure would put Australia’s laws in line with recently enacted legislation in Canada.
The review found competing views about the effectiveness of Australia’s laws. Some said businesses are taking their obligations seriously, while others alleged reporting entities considered their disclosure obligations as no more than a box-ticking exercise.