Page 757 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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more than $100 million, for the commonwealth government and for New South Wales state-owned corporations. It is a reasonable extension for the ACT government agencies to comply too.

The second element creates an anti-slavery commissioner in the ACT Human Rights Commission. The commissioner’s functions will include: advocating to combat modern slavery; protecting and promoting the rights of victim survivors; and monitoring and reporting on the risks of modern slavery happening directly here in the ACT and in our government supply chains. The anti-slavery commissioner will also be able to review how well a government and legislative response is addressing modern slavery and make recommendations to improve it. This is really important for any system, particularly for a system that is addressing such a complex problem.

I heard over and over again from advocates, and from those working in the field, that it is really important we have an independent commissioner doing this work. I am really pleased we already such great structures that we can slot into to have a commissioner doing that.

The third element in my bill applies to businesses who want to tender to the ACT government or to a territory entity in a procurement. These businesses will have new requirements to address modern slavery. A business with turnover above $100 million that is already a reporting entity under the commonwealth Modern Slavery Act must comply with their existing commonwealth obligations. If they do not do that, they cannot tender to ACT government. For all other businesses that would like to tender to the ACT government on a procurement above the $25,000 threshold, they will need to provide information about the risk of modern slavery happening in their supply chains for goods and services. They will need to describe how they will mitigate these risks; that will be part of the tender. This will ensure that for all of these tenders, modern slavery risks are front of mind and issues that the ACT government and our suppliers will consider.

This bill sets up the ACT to be a leader among Australian states and territories in the fight against modern slavery. It will make us the second state or territory to legislate an anti-slavery commissioner. We have had the benefit of learning from the experience in New South Wales on this. Our commissioner will play a vital role in pulling together an ACT-wide response on this issue. Their independence from government will allow them to adequately scrutinise the response, and the bill will send a really important message that the ACT is taking this issue seriously. It will also lead to practical change and immediate change in our supply chains.

I have spoken to a lot of stakeholders in the development of this bill, but what we need now is a broader community consultation and a discussion with Canberrans and businesses. I am really looking forward to this detailed engagement—hopefully through a tri-partisan, apolitical Assembly committee process.

I would like to thank everyone who has worked with me on this bill so far and my staff who have put it together so well. This conversation is only just starting here in the ACT. I am looking forward to the fantastic contributions and the discussions that we will be having over the coming months to get these details right.

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