New Zealanders urged to have their say on modern slavery legislation as public consultation commences

World Vision has welcomed the Government’s launch of public consultation on a proposed law to address modern slavery and is urging New Zealanders to show support for the much-needed legislation. 

A statement from World Vision says the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Hon. Michael Wood, opened the public consultation process by asking for feedback on what legislation to address modern slavery should include.  

National director for World Vision New Zealand, Grant Bayldon, is delighted New Zealanders get to have input on new legislation that seeks to achieve freedom, fairness and dignity in the operations and supply chains of entities in New Zealand and says this is positive for both business and consumers.  

“Consultation is the next step for New Zealand and follows a year-long campaign by World Vision and TradeAid. It means we are one step closer to seeing real legal change which has the potential to improve the lives of millions living in modern slavery,” he says. 

 World Visions says modern slavery includes practices such as forced labour, child labour, debt bondage, and human trafficking. Globally, around 40 million people are victims of modern slavery – that’s one in every 200 people.  A quarter of those in modern slavery are children. 

World Vision’s Head of Advocacy, Rebekah Armstrong says action is urgently needed and is calling on Kiwis to make a submission in support of legislation to address modern slavery before the end of June.  Kiwis can have their say at and use the hashtag #submittosupport. 

“Currently, many New Zealand companies have no visibility of the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains and could unwittingly be helping to facilitate modern slavery through their purchasing or business relationships. We’re confident this legislation would change that and that’s good for workers, businesses, and all New Zealanders,” she says. 

World Vision would like to see modern slavery legislation that requires all businesses to not only identify modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, but to also take action to prevent or mitigate it.  

“Legislation to address modern slavery would make doing the right thing the norm.  Most New Zealand companies want to do the right thing and ensure that the people involved in making the products and services they sell are safe and working in good conditions,” Armstrong says.  

Bayldon says there’s a groundswell of support for such legislation in New Zealand. More than 100 New Zealand companies signed World Vision’s open letter in March 2021 in support of legislation to address modern slavery.   

Last year World Vision, together with Trade Aid, also handed over a petition to Parliament signed by more than 37,000 New Zealanders in support of legislation.  

World Vision says that in response, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) acknowledged “a gap in New Zealand’s measures to address modern slavery in supply chains” and the Petitions Committee urged the Government to bring legislation before the House as soon as possible to allow for adequate policy development and public consultation.  

Bayldon says all New Zealanders can play a role in helping to protect the livelihoods of children around the world and to set standards for the production and supply of goods and services for New Zealand businesses.  
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