"When the Australian government introduced its Modern Slavery Bill to
parliament in 2018, it heralded it as the start of a “race to the top”.
But it has turned out to be less a race than a meander.
The bill required companies with annual revenues greater than $100 million to
report on action they take to ensure their supply chains are free of slave
labour. The premise was that transparency and accountability were enough to
“Business feedback indicates the primary driver for compliance will be investor
pressure and reputational costs and benefits,” a government spokeswoman said at
the time. “This will drive compliance more effectively than legislated
penalties and encourage a business-led race to the top”.
That bill was passed in December 2018. But so far, according to research
published last month by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors,
most companies are engaged in a “race to the middle”, disclosing only the
minimum and not wishing to reveal more than their key peers.
Could more be done?
Yes — but the possibilities and pitfalls are shown by a private member’s bill
that passed the Senate this week."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics