Key differences between the New South Wales and Commonwealth Government’s Modern Slavery Acts in Australia

The New South Wales Parliament, the main legislative body in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), passed the Modern Slavery Act 2018 on 21 June 2018. On 28 June 2018, the Commonwealth Government introduced a Modern Slavery Bill to be applied at a national level. This has resulted in a Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) which was passed in both Houses of Parliament in Australia on 29 November 2018 and subsequently received royal assent. For a more detailed outline of the NSW Modern Slavery Act see here, and for the Commonwealth Government Modern Slavery Act see here.

The Commonwealth Government’s Modern Slavery Act differs from the NSW ‘s Act in the following ways:

  • Lack of financial penalties – Unlike the NSW Act, the Commonwealth Act does not contain any penalties for failing to prepare, publish or mislead a Modern Slavery Statement. The Commonwealth Act details that the regulations must not enforce any offence or civil penalty. Instead, the Act states that the Minister of Home Affairs, who the statements must be submitted to, may identify and publish details of the non-conforming entity.
  • Increased revenue threshold – The Commonwealth Act requires entities with an annual revenue of A$100 million to submit a Modern Slavery Statement compared to the A$50 million annual revenue threshold outlined in the NSW Act. This creates the situation where entities covered by the NSW Act, but not the Commonwealth Act (i.e. those with a presence in NSW and a turnover between $50m and $100m) are subject to penalties, but entities with a turnover of $100m or more, are not. 
  • Lack of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner – The Commonwealth Act does not include an appointment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner as the NSW Act allows for. Instead the Commonwealth Act grants powers to the Minister of Home Affairs. 

Post written by Marianne Rozario