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Overwhelming Support For Government To Introduce Law To Address Modern Slavery

World Vision welcomes the overwhelming support from New Zealand businesses and individuals for a proposal to introduce legislation to address modern slavery.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) today released a Summary of Feedback on submissions received as part of consultation on a proposal to address modern slavery and worker exploitation.

The summary reveals that 90% of the more than 5,600 submitters supported a requirement for all entities to ‘take reasonable and proportionate action’ to address modern slavery.

Modern slavery includes practices such as forced labour, child labour, debt bondage, and human trafficking.

World Vision National Director, Grant Bayldon, says new figures released just this week show that more people are now living in modern slavery than ever before, underlining the urgent need for legislation.

The latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery report shows that there are now 50 million people living in modern slavery – a rise of 10 million people in the past five years.

Bayldon says the sheer number of people denied individual freedom means the Government is morally obliged to act and it now has a clear mandate from New Zealanders to introduce swift and strong legislation on modern slavery.

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“World Vision is thrilled with the sheer scale of support for a law to address modern slavery. This is clearly something New Zealanders feel strongly about, but it’s also something that resonates with the business community.

“We’re heartened by the volume of submissions from businesses calling for action, accountability, and clear direction to address modern slavery. Our business community believes in fairness and dignity for workers everywhere,” he says.

Bayldon says it is telling that the vast majority of submitters felt New Zealand was not doing enough to address modern slavery and worker exploitation.

“We hope the New Zealand parliament uses this as motivation to act swiftly to ensure New Zealand is no longer a global outlier but can proudly boast legislation that helps to prevent and eliminate modern slavery,” he says.

The Summary of Feedback reveals that most submitters want the law to apply to businesses and organisations of all sizes and are supportive of robust due diligence protocols.

There was strong support for the introduction of penalties for enterprises that do not comply; the need for a public register to record compliance; and for an oversight role such as a Modern Slavery Commissioner.

The Summary of Feedback will now be presented to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Hon. Michael Wood, for his consideration.

Bayldon is urging the minister to push forward and introduce legislation quickly.

“There’s such a tidal wave of support for this legislation that it’s a no-brainer to proceed. We hope politicians of all persuasions will recognise this and will support impending legislation to ensure people everywhere are rewarded fairly for the work they do and are treated with dignity,” Bayldon says.

For more information about modern slavery and New Zealanders’ connection to modern slavery through the products and services we use visit: https://www.worldvision.org.nz/causes/advocacy/modern-slavery-act/

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