Call for global ban on goods produced by forced labour
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is keeping the pressure on the Government to introduce a global ban on the import of goods to Australia that are produced by forced labour.
This morning the Centre Alliance MP introduced the Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced By Forced Labour) Bill 2021, to amend the Customs Act to impose an absolute ban on the importation of goods produced in whole or part by forced labour. The proposed ban is global in nature and does not specify a geographic area.
“Between 38 to 46 million people are subjected to forced labour across the world, of which more than 10 million are children, and this exploitation occurs in the private economy as well as under ruling government and military regimes,” Rebekha said.
“Australia needs to play its part and we can do so by making sure we do not become the endpoint for services and products, especially apparel, produced by forced labour.
“Cotton products are at high risk of originating from or being part of forced labour arrangements through the supply chain.
“Of concern is the Uyghur Region in Xinjiang, China, which produces about 85% of all of China’s cotton which then ends up with manufacturers in places such as Bangladesh, India, and Mexico.
“Earlier this year fellow South Australian, Independent Senator Rex Patrick, introduced the Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced By Uyghur Forced Labour) Bill in 2020 to address the well documented human rights abuse of hundreds of thousands of the Uyghur people.
“His bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee which has endorsed the objectives of the legislation but took the view it would be preferable to introduce a global ban on the import of goods to Australia that was produced by forced labour.
“My Private Members’ Bill reflects the view of that Committee by seeking to amend the Customs Act 1901 to prohibit the import of any goods made wholly or in part with forced labour, regardless of the geographic origin.
“I call on the Government to allow debate on this important Bill and allow every Member of Parliament the opportunity to help put an end to the injustice of forced labour; to give a voice to the millions of unheard people working against their will, and to give consumers the confidence to buy products that have been produced without forced labour or from the products of forced labour.”
Rebekha spoke on her Bill at a press conference at 11am this morning on the front lawns of Parliament House. She was joined by Senator Patrick and Carolyn Kitto and Fuzz Kitto, Co-Directors of the advocacy group Be Slavery Free.
Rebekha’s Bill mirrors that of Senator Patrick’s legislation which has been passed by the Senate and is waiting to be debated in the House of Representatives.
Photo: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie spoke at a press conference this morning regarding her Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced By Forced Labour) Bill 2021. She was joined by Independent Senator Rex Patrick, pictured centre, and Carolyn Kitto and Fuzz Kitto, Co-Directors of the advocacy group Be Slavery Free.