Over a year since the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) (Act) was passed by Parliament, the legislation is still yet to come into force, or even have a date set for doing so. Since that time, the Federal Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) has passed and come into effect (see our previous article on that legislation here).
The NSW Government flagged late last year that it was working towards a commencement date of 1 July 2019, and appointed an Interim Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Professor Jennifer Burn. However, just last week, the Government raised that as it currently stands, it believes that the Act has a number of defects requiring urgent attention. While full details have not yet been given, the defects have been suggested to include constitutional issues resulting from the passage of the Federal legislation.
The Act, along with an amended bill and draft regulations intended to cure those issues, has been referred to a Parliamentary Committee for inquiry and report. Additionally, the NSW Government has stated that along with considering the amendments to the legislation, it will also be open to the Committee to determine whether the Federal legislation renders part or possibly all of the Act unnecessary.
In response to that suggestion, nine civil society organisations, including Oxfam and the Human Rights Law Centre, published a statement late last week calling for the legislation to be implemented and that any review does not remove any of its critical components.
As yet, no timeframe has been set for that inquiry, however with the NSW Parliament not due to sit again until August, it is unlikely that the Parliamentary Committee will make any recommendations before September 2019.
We will continue to monitor developments.
Brett Feltham, Partner
Emma Corcoran, Lawyer