World Vision welcomes positive first step on modern slavery law reform

28 Jul 2023 by World Vision
World Vision welcomes positive first step on modern slavery law reform

World Vision applauds the government’s move to introduce a law requiring businesses to publicly report on modern slavery risks.

It’s also pleased to see the government say that due diligence requirements are a priority but wants to see a time-bound commitment to introduce these requirements.

Today the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Hon. Carmel Sepuloni, announced a modern slavery reporting law, requiring businesses with at least $20 million in annual revenue to report on the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains. Those who do not meet disclosure requirements can face financial penalties.

World Vision New Zealand’s Head of Advocacy and Justice, Rebekah Armstrong, is pleased to see movement on modern slavery law reform.

"World Vision has been advocating for modern slavery legislation for over two years so it is encouraging to see the New Zealand government introduce a strong reporting bill. This is a great first step.

“Reporting on modern slavery risks is extremely important, but we know that on its own it is not enough to make a real difference for people trapped in slavery. Companies also need to take meaningful action to address the modern slavery risks they identify and uphold the human rights of workers in their supply chains," she says.

World Vision is pleased to see the government commit to a due diligence and “take action” component as a priority, although at this stage it’s unclear when this will happen. Officials now need to draft the legislation and it likely won’t be introduced into Parliament until next year.

Armstrong says she wants to acknowledge New Zealanders who have united to create incredible momentum and support for legislation to address modern slavery. She says it has paid off.

“New Zealanders have been clear about their desire for action to end modern slavery. In just the past three weeks alone, nearly 6,000 Kiwis have signed World Vision and Tearfund’s open letter calling for immediate action on modern slavery law reform.

"We want to acknowledge the New Zealanders who have spoken out on behalf of the 50 million people trapped in modern slavery to push for this legislation. New Zealanders have really made a difference and are clearly compelled by wanting to ensure that the people who make the products we buy are treated fairly and with dignity,” Armstrong says.

Over the past two years, more than 100 businesses have stepped up to call for change and 37,000 Kiwis signed World Vision and Trade Aid’s petition calling for law reform in 2021.

In the Government’s own consultation process on modern slavery legislation, more than 90% of submitters supported a requirement for businesses to ‘take reasonable and proportionate action’ to address modern slavery and more than 94% believed large entities should be required to meet due diligence requirements.

“Today marks an important milestone for New Zealand and is a first step in fulfilling our responsibility as a good global citizen to address one of the gravest injustices of our time.

“In an election year, it is critical that all political parties agree to progress both reporting and due diligence legislation and we look forward to hearing that commitment from both sides of Parliament,” Armstrong says.

New Zealanders can signal their support for modern slavery law reform by signing World Vision’s open letter here.

For more information or to request an interview please contact:
Kirsty Jones
(09) 580 7753