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24 June 2021

Senator Patrick has introduced a new bill that will implement a key recommendation of the bipartisan Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee’s report on Uyghur forced labour.

The new bill - Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced By Forced Labour) Bill 2021 - would ban the importation of goods that are produced in whole or part by forced labour. 

“This Bill that reflects the Senate’s bipartisan recommendation to amend the Customs Act to prohibit the import of any goods made wholly or in part with forced labour, regardless of geographic origin.”

“Under this Bill, the importation into Australia of any goods found to have been produced by forced labour, will be subject to the penalties under the Customs Act.”

Estimates of the number of slaves across the world range from around 38 million to 46 million and the use of forced labour within global production chains has emerged as a major humanitarian concern. 

The issue of modern slavery has also been highlighted by the well documented human rights abuse of hundreds of thousands of Uyghur people in Xinjiang Province in China. The massive and systematic oppression of the Uyghur people by the Chinese Government is undeniable. The exploitation of detained Uyghurs as a captive labour force is clear. 

“This is a matter that cannot be delayed. The supply of goods produced in whole or part with slave labour is an immediate problem of the utmost gravity and must be addressed urgently.”

“Given the bipartisan response from the Senate Committee to my previous bill, there should be no hesitation from the Parliament in passing this Bill. Any such delay would be unconscionable.”

Senator Patrick intends to have this Bill put to a vote on August 23rd.