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CRACKDOWN ON SLAVE LABOUR MUST BE A PRIORITY IN THE NEW PARLIAMENT

23 April 2022

Independent Senator Rex Patrick has called on both major parties to commit to stamping out slave labour products as a matter of priority in the new Parliament.

“Today marks 8 months since the Senate stood tall and supported my Bill to ban the import of goods produced in whole or part with slave labour,” Senator Patrick said.

“The Australian Senate’s vote was an important step forward in the international efforts to combat modern slavery, including the Chinese Communist Party’s exploitation of Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang.”

“Nobody wants to wear or use misery.”

“Not only is the human cost of slave labour abhorrent, it also leaves Australian businesses competing against imports on unfair terms.”

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,” Senator Patrick said. “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 relating to Uyghur forced labour, there should be no hesitation from the next Parliament in passing this Bill.” 

While the Bill was supported in the Senate by the Labor Opposition, the Greens and crossbench Senators, the Coalition voted against it. 

“I am disappointed that the Liberal Government failed to support my Bill. Whose side are the liberals on when it comes to combatting modern slavery?”

“I’m calling on both major parties to put on record how they will combat modern slavery if they form Government after the election. Implementing my Bill as a priority is a good start.”