Mining magnate Andrew Forrest has declared “the beginning of the end of modern slavery” following a landmark meeting between big business and the federal government, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Mr Forrest said other companies from the Indo-Pacific region, including Walmart, Adidas, Thai Union and JD.com now shared his company's commitment to scrutinise their supply chains to eliminate slavery. Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop addressed the business leaders at the meeting in Perth yesterday.
"This is really ground breaking," Mr Forrest said. "This is the beginning of the end of modern slavery.
"Business and government working together are the only combined powers which can effectively end modern slavery and it has finally come together in a landmark forum."
Mr Forrest, the Australian business co-chairman of the forum, said companies who had attended the inaugural Bali Process Government and Business Forum would meet again next year to review work plans and mark progress.
The federal government last week said it would introduce legislation requiring big Australian companies to examine their supply chains and report annually on measures they are taking to combat slavery, including human trafficking, debt bondage and forced labour.
Companies with an annual turnover of at least $100 million will be asked to publish "Modern Slavery Statements" and will be held to account on a publicly accessible central repository.
Mr Forrest said two-thirds of the estimated 46 million people trapped in slavery were in the Indo-Pacific region. It is estimated almost 4500 people are trapped in some form of slavery in Australia – and millions more are victims around the world.
In an opinion piece published in The Australian today, Ms Bishop said the government was committed to addressing slavery and was enlisting regional help.
“Australia cannot tackle this issue alone; regional action is imperative,” she said. “Today in Perth, together with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, I will launch the world’s first regional business-government partnership to address modern slavery.”
Scourge of modern slavery must end (The Australian)