The New South Wales Modern Slavery Act was passed by the NSW Parliament on 21 June 2018, but has not yet commenced.
The NSW Government took the unusual step of indefinitely deferring its commencement. The legislation then got tied up in a Parliamentary inquiry and Committee review (see our previous update on this here.)
Well, it looks like the NSW Act is back – with some significant amendments and other tweaks.
The Modern Slavery Amendment Bill 2021 (Bill) was introduced to the NSW Parliament on 14 October 2021 and has progressed to its second reading speech in the NSW Parliament.
In more detail
The most substantial amendments proposed by the Bill include:
- the repeal of provisions requiring commercial organisations to prepare modern slavery statements.
- more detail on the powers and functions of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner (a new position created under the NSW Act).
- the introduction of new information sharing arrangements between the Commissioner of Police and the Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
- the provision of recognition payments to some victims of modern slavery.
Further, it is now proposed that the NSW Act commence on 1 January 2022.
Your big takeaway here: a commercial organisation, regardless of its annual turnover, will no longer be required to prepare and lodge a modern slavery statement under the NSW Act. The reason given for this change? Duplicating the Commonwealth modern slavery reporting scheme would be of “little public benefit” and create “only more red tape for business.”
Please take note – a commercial entity in New South Wales with a consolidated revenue of at least AUD 100 million in a financial year will continue to be subject to the reporting obligations contained in the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth).
It is currently possible for commercial entities in New South Wales which do not meet the Commonwealth financial threshold of AUD 100 million to voluntarily report under the Commonwealth reporting scheme. It is expected that the Anti-Slavery Commissioner will advocate for such entities with an annual turnover of at least AUD 50 million to voluntarily report under the Commonwealth scheme.
However, if the Bill is passed, NSW businesses won’t need to worry about satisfying mandatory reporting obligations under both Federal and NSW modern slavery legislation.
Finally, we note that the NSW Government has previously urged the Commonwealth to reduce the AUD 100 million reporting threshold to AUD 50 million. The assistant Minister responsible for the Commonwealth legislation (the Hon Jason Wood) has said that this issue is likely to be discussed during the statutory review of the Commonwealth legislation which is due to commence in 2022.
We will keep you updated.