Legislation for Transparency and Accountability
In a significant move to combat modern slavery and promote ethical business practices, the New Zealand government has joined forces with businesses to introduce groundbreaking legislation. The proposed law mandates organizations and businesses with revenues exceeding $20 million to maintain transparency about their operations and supply chains through a new public register.
This measure aims to tackle exploitation risks and ensure the safety and dignity of workers across various industries.
Taking Action Against Modern Slavery
Carmel Sepuloni, a government representative, emphasized the urgency of addressing modern slavery practices head-on. She expressed concern about the alarming surge in global modern slavery cases since the onset of the pandemic.
According to estimates from the International Labour Organization and Walk Free, approximately 50 million people find themselves trapped in modern slavery on any given day, a significant increase from the 40 million reported in 2016.
The proposed legislation and public register are expected to establish one of the world’s most robust reporting systems to combat this pervasive issue.
Business Support and Consumer Impact
During consultations, the government received strong backing from businesses, who recognize the significance of this legislation in eliminating modern slavery from their supply chains. It is evident that some companies are already proactively ensuring that their operations are free from exploitation, and this new law will level the playing field, encouraging others to follow suit.
Moreover, these changes will empower conscious Kiwi consumers with greater transparency regarding the products and services they choose. World Vision estimates that unwittingly, Kiwi households contribute an average of $34 each week to industries associated with modern slavery-linked products.
The proposed legislation aims to raise awareness and empower consumers to make more informed choices that align with their ethical values.
Safeguarding Trade Relations and Global Reputation
The importance of this legislation goes beyond domestic borders. New Zealand has committed to preventing modern slavery within its supply chains through Free Trade Agreements with the United Kingdom and the European Union.
The failure to take decisive action could have detrimental effects on New Zealand’s trading relationships. Upholding a transparent and ethical reputation in global export markets is crucial, and implementing measures to prevent modern slavery is more urgent than ever.
Striking the Right Balance
Focusing on larger organizations for these reforms strikes a balance between encouraging those with more extensive supply chains to take responsibility and not burdening small businesses excessively.
This approach aims to maximize the positive impact of eradicating modern slavery while ensuring fairness in compliance efforts across various business scales.
Acknowledgments and Future Endeavors
The Modern Slavery Leadership Advisory Group, led by Rob Fyfe, played a pivotal role in shaping the proposed legislation. Their hard work and commitment to the cause have been instrumental in driving these changes forward.
While the current legislation focuses on specific aspects related to modern slavery and supply chains, the government acknowledges that broader reforms are still in the pipeline. This includes addressing components such as ‘due diligence’ and ‘take action’ responsibilities, which remain a priority for the government’s future decisions.
The Road Ahead
The next step involves the drafting of the legislation, a process that is expected to take around six months. This period will be critical in finalizing the framework that will enable businesses to fulfill their obligations toward supply chain transparency and accountability effectively.
Rob Fyfe’s Insight
Rob Fyfe, Chair of the Modern Slavery Leadership Advisory Group, spoke about the value of understanding one’s operations and supply chains. He praised businesses that have already taken the lead in addressing modern slavery without waiting for legislative changes.
However, Fyfe highlighted the importance of creating a level playing field to ensure that cost competitiveness does not come at the expense of enabling modern slavery practices. He sees the proposed legislation as a positive step forward for Kiwi businesses and the country’s international trading reputation.
As consumers increasingly demand transparency in the products they buy, this reporting system is expected to shed light on supply chains, fostering ethical choices and greater accountability among businesses.
The collaboration between the New Zealand government and businesses represents a significant stride in the fight against modern slavery. By requiring transparency and accountability from organizations, the proposed legislation aims to create a safer and more ethical business environment.
With a focus on larger businesses, the reforms aim to balance impact and responsibility while fostering a fair business landscape.
As the drafting of the legislation commences, New Zealand is taking a crucial step towards securing a transparent and ethical reputation on the global stage, safeguarding trade relations, and contributing to the eradication of modern slavery practices worldwide.