Government acknowledges a gap in New Zealand’s measures regarding modern slavery

26 Oct 2021 by Linda Shackelford, Media Advisor
Government acknowledges a gap in New Zealand’s measures regarding modern slavery

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has submitted a briefing to the Petitions Select Committee in relation to World Vision and Trade Aid’s petition calling for modern slavery legislation.  

World Vision New Zealand welcomes MBIE’s agreement that modern slavery is a significant issue for New Zealand and global supply chains. 

In the briefing, MBIE acknowledges that ‘there is a gap in New Zealand’s measures regarding modern slavery in international supply chains’. It also says that ‘tackling modern slavery will take a collective global effort, with a particular focus on global supply chains at the national level’. These acknowledgements have also been welcomed by World Vision New Zealand.

MBIE’s briefing outlines the relevant policy settings and work underway to address the issues relating to modern slavery raised in the petition and Trade Aid and World Vision New Zealand’s evidence.  The evidence was presented to the Petitions Select Committee in September, in response to the Modern Slavery Act petition.

MBIE confirms that they are leading the Government’s work, exploring legislation to address modern slavery in supply chains and that New Zealand is committed to ending modern slavery here and around the world.

“It is extremely positive to see that MBIE are drawing from the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights when looking at legislative options,” says World Vision’s Director Grant Bayldon. “This is consistent with our recommendations for the legislation.” 

“We strongly agree with MBIE’s comments that ‘bringing legislation into force that addresses modern slavery in supply chains would set a standard to help ensure all people are treated fairly and with dignity, meet the commitments made by the government in the Plan of Action and United Nations Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, and could help safeguard New Zealand’s reputation’.” 

The briefing outlines the factors currently being considered by the Modern Slavery Leadership Advisory Group convened by Minister Michael Wood, which World Vision sits on. It also confirms a public consultation on options for addressing modern slavery is expected to begin by early 2022. 

“The steps the Government are taking are positive. However, it is not enough that there is a commitment to investigate, we need a commitment to act. We challenge the Government to do more than commit to investigate the option of legislation, but commit to introduce legislation. We call on Minister Wood to ensure New Zealand introduces modern slavery legislation as a matter of priority,” says Bayldon.  

World Vision research shows that an average New Zealand household spends approximately $34 each week on industries whose products are implicated in modern slavery, making this issue very close to home.

Bayldon adds legislation needs to be a priority when looking at post Covid recovery. 

“We know that Covid-19 has placed many in a position of increased vulnerability, including to exploitative work and child labour. We must ensure that we have the structures in place as a nation to promote sustainable recovery for industries and communities, both in New Zealand and around the world, and the protection of workers and efforts to combating modern slavery is a key part of that.” 

Learn more about our work to get a Modern Slavery Act passed in New Zealand.