Local Government exempt from Modern Slavery Act: Commonwealth

Image shows members of the public inside a council chambers.

Local Government is not required to report on supply chains as part of the Modern Slavery Act, but large local councils are welcome to consider voluntarily complying, the Australian Government has said.

The Modern Slavery Act 2018, which aims to tackle slavery in global supply chains, applies to all entities – Australian and foreign entities doing business here – with at least A$100m annual consolidated revenue.

The Commonwealth and other entities must prepare annual public statements detailing their efforts to assess and address modern slavery risks in their operations and supply chains.

While the Act does not cover State and Territory Government, it was not clear until 17 December 2019 whether Local Government was also exempt.

The Australian Border Force wrote to ALGA President, David O’Loughlin, and confirmed the exemption.

“I can advise that the Australian Border Force will also not require Local Government entities to comply with the Act.

“This approach will not prevent Local Government entities from voluntarily complying with the Act, should they wish to do so.

“I encourage large Local Government entities to consider whether they may be in a position to voluntarily comply with the Act.”

Border Force added that Local Governments have an important role to play in combating modern slavery, of which the United Nations estimates there are at least 40 million victims worldwide.

The Australian Government said its 2018 Act is the world’s first national legislation to device modern slavery.

The Department of Home Affairs’ guidance for reporting entities defines modern slavery as including eight types of serious exploitation: trafficking in persons; slavery; servitude; forced marriage; forced labour; debt bondage; deceptive recruiting for labour or services; and the worst forms of child labour. “The worst forms of child labour means situations where children are subjected to slavery or similar practices, or engaged in hazardous work,” the guidance added.