MBIE response to Sign for Freedom petition is released
December 2, 2021
“There is a gap in New Zealand’s measures regarding modern slavery in international supply chains,” reports MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) in response to Trade Aid’s petition in which 37,000+ New Zealanders urged the government to propose Modern Slavery Legislation back in June.
Trade Aid welcomes the briefing and the confirmation that Minister Wood has directed MBIE to investigate whether New Zealand is adequately protecting workers in New Zealand and elsewhere from modern slavery, and to investigate the options for addressing slavery in international supply chains.
The briefing acknowledges that modern slavery is most often found in international supply chains, and that tackling modern slavery will take a collective global effort, with a particular focus on global supply chains at the national level. However, Trade Aid believes this makes it all the more disappointing that in response to the petition, the government continues to stop short of committing to Modern Slavery Legislation.
“The Sign for Freedom campaign urged the government the enact Modern Slavery Legislation, recognising that New Zealand had fallen well behind its global counterparts in this space, and without legislation was failing to meet its global commitments and responsibilities,” says Trade Aid’s CEO Geoff White. “It is acknowledged in the briefing that legislation would set a standard to help ensure all people are treated fairly and with dignity, and meet the global commitments made by our government.”
Trade Aid’s submission to the Petitions Committee recommended that legislation be unique to the business climate of Aotearoa, and we applaud the Minister for putting together a Modern Slavery Leadership Advisory Group*, which in bringing together business, academia, unions, and NGOs provides a wide range of perspectives to inform uniquely Aotearoa-based legislation.
The briefing confirms that MBIE will be drawing from the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights when considering options, as is consistent with the recommendations from Trade Aid and World Vision New Zealand.
“In general this briefing is encouraging in its confirmation of the seriousness of this issue and in the action that is being undertaken,” says Geoff. “It will be welcomed by all those New Zealanders who signed onto this petition because they believed in global fairness and human rights.”
Trade Aid welcomes the news that there will be public consultation on the policy options and that this is scheduled to begin in early 2022. This consultation will be used to inform any legislation put forward to Parliament. Trade Aid will be encouraging its supporters, to engage when the public consultation period begins, to help ensure that strong legislation is created that will bring real change to those suffering in situations of modern slavery.
* “The Group is chaired by Rob Fyfe and includes representatives from World Vision New Zealand, Trade Aid, Kathmandu, Countdown, OCS, Human Rights Council, Business NZ, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Auckland University, Auckland University of Technology, Walk Free and NZ Superfund. The members have been chosen based on their work in this field already, and their experiences addressing this issue. Their advice will be invaluable in helping us formulate the right approach for modern slavery legislation in New Zealand.”
For the full MBIE briefing to the Petitions Select Committee and Trade Aid and others’ submissions visit here.
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