Labor scores its sixth ACT election victory in a row. But the big winners are the Greens



Lukas Coch/AAP

John Warhurst, Australian National University

New Zealanders were not the only ones to go to the polls over the weekend. On Saturday, the Australian Capital Territory also voted, returning Labor for a sixth consecutive term after almost 20 years in office.

Andrew Barr, after almost six years as chief minister, has won a further four years in office.

The result confirms Canberra’s reputation as the most progressive jurisdiction in the Australia.

Big wins for the Greens, losses for Liberals

Labor’s vote remained steady, despite being the nation’s longest-serving government, albeit under different leaders.

The big winner on the night was Barr’s coalition partner, the Greens, led by Minister for Climate Change, Sustainability and Corrections, Shane Rattenbury.

The Greens earned a swing of 3.4%. It looks like the party will go from two to at least three seats, with the possibility of up to six in the 25-seat Legislative Assembly as counting is confirmed.




Read more:
Labo(u)r easily wins in both New Zealand and the ACT, and leads in Queensland


There are five electorates of five members each under the ACT’s Hare-Clark electoral system and the Greens may have at least one member in each electorate.

The big loser was the Canberra Liberals, under new leader, 36-year-old Alistair Coe. They suffered an equivalent 3.4% swing against them and lost at least one and possibly three seats.

Liberal leader Alistair Coe
Liberal leader Alistair Coe’s stunt-heavy campaign failed to resonate with voters.
Lukas Coch/AAP

With several seats still to be decided, at this stage, the outcome looks like it could be Labor 11, Liberals ten, and Greens four.

At the 2016 election Labor won 12 seats, the Liberals 11, and the Greens two.

A closer contest was expected

The return of the government was predictable, but the result was expected to be much closer.

Commentators predicted the Labor-Green coalition could lose a seat in the small assembly. Instead, they are set to increase their majority.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr debates Liberal leader Alistair Coe during the election campaign.
ACT election watchers were expecting a closer result.
Mick Tsikas/AAP

The government ran as an experienced, progressive coalition, tagging the opposition leader as inexperienced and too socially conservative for Canberra. It was a low-key, steady pair of hands approach, in contrast to an opposition relying on stunts and expensive policy proposals.

It was the Greens, coming off a solid 2019 federal election performance, who painted a vision of a “better normal”, including action on climate change and social housing, rather than business as usual.

The Liberal’s slogan was “lower taxes, better services”, playing on community concerns about rate rises and problems in health and transport services. It wanted to “grow the pie” through population growth, by appealing for the return of Canberrans attracted to nearby NSW towns by lower property prices. It also painted the government as arrogant and tired.

But the Liberal campaign, widely acknowledged to be disciplined, failed to cut through and was dogged by its inability to convincingly answer where the money was coming from for better services, if rates were frozen. The Liberals have now campaigned for almost a decade against cost of living rises without any return.




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Saturday’s election result also sees the long-running controversy about the government’s investment in light rail resolved in Labor-Greens’ favour.

Despite concerns about the construction and usage of the new transport system, which launched in the city’s north in 2019, it is now seen as a positive. Canberrans in the southern suburbs want to get on board too.

Surprising results

Within the overall result, there were some intriguing variations between and within the parties and regions.

The Liberals’ lost a seat in its hitherto southern heartland, Brindabella. This may have been connected to growing concerns about climate change, fuelled by the bushfires and smoke haze at the beginning of the year.

But in the northern seat of Yerrabi, which benefited from the new light rail, Labor surprisingly looks like losing a seat to the Greens.

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury.
It was a strong election for ACT Greens leader, Shane Rattenbury.
Lukas Coch/AAP

Independents and new parties made no inroads. The Belco Party, created by former Liberal leader, Bill Stefaniak, fell short in the western seat of Ginnindera, damaging the Liberals in the process.

Stinging criticism of Labor, by former Labor Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, may have driven some Labor voters, not to the Liberals, but to the Greens.

Combined with retirements, the losses among sitting members on both sides may mean as many as seven new faces in the 25-member Legislative Assembly.

COVID elections good for incumbents

Given the small size of the ACT and its traditional Labor-leanings, there are few national lessons from Saturday’s result. But the Greens will be encouraged to campaign again on a positive vision.

Meanwhile, the idea that incumbent governments thrive under pandemic condition elections also received a boost. There will be another opportunity to test this theory when Queensland goes to the polls on October 31.




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The Conversation


John Warhurst, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Labo(u)r easily wins in both New Zealand and the ACT, and leads in Queensland



AAP/David Rowland

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

At Saturday’s New Zealand election, Labour won 64 of the 120 seats (up 18 since the 2017 election). This means a Labour eight-seat majority. The opposition National won 35 seats (down 21), the right-wing ACT ten (up nine), the Greens ten (up two) and the Māori party one (up one).

Vote shares were 49.1% Labour (up 12.2%), 26.8% National (down 17.6%), 8.0% ACT (up 7.5%), 7.6% Greens (up 1.3%) and 1.0% Māori (down 0.2%).

Under New Zealand’s system, parties are entitled to a proportional allocation of seats if they either win at least 5% of the overall vote, or win a single-member seat. The Māori party entered parliament by winning one of the seven single-member seats reserved for those on the Māori roll. The Greens and ACT also won single-member seats.

Since the 2017 election, Labour has governed in coalition with the Greens and the populist NZ First. NZ First will not be returned to parliament, as their vote slumped to 2.7% (down 4.5%), and they failed to win a single-member seat.

This will be the first single-party New Zealand majority government since the adoption of proportional representation in 1996.

In February, two polls had National ahead of Labour. But Labour recorded massive poll leads in May owing to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s handling of coronavirus. Labour’s lead narrowed somewhat as the election approached, but final polls understated Labour’s lead; they won by 22 points, not the 15 in final polls.

Greens could win six of 25 ACT seats

With 78% of enrolled voters counted at Saturday’s ACT election, vote shares were 38.4% Labor (down 0.1% since 2016), 33.1% Liberals (down 3.6%) and 13.9% Greens (up 3.6%).

The ACT uses five five-member electorates, with candidates elected using the Hare-Clark system. A quota is one-sixth of the vote, or 16.7%. Preference distribution sheets have been released based on votes cast electronically. Paper ballots will be manually entered.

In Brindabella, Labor has 2.5 quotas, the Liberals 2.3 and the Greens 0.7. The Poll Bludger’s analysis of preferences has it very close between Labor and the Greens for the final seat.

In Ginninderra, Labor has 2.4 quotas, the Liberals 1.6 and the Greens 0.8. Labor leads the Liberals for the final seat, but it could be overturned on late counting.

In Kurrajong, Labor has 2.3 quotas, the Liberals 1.6 and the Greens 1.4. Preferences from Labor and minor parties give the Greens a solid lead over the Liberals in the race for the final seat. So Kurrajong is likely to split two Labor, two Greens and just one Liberal.

In Murrumbidgee, Labor has 2.2 quotas, the Liberals 2.1 and the Greens 0.7. This is a clear two Labor, two Liberals, one Green result.

In Yerrabi, the Liberals have 2.4 quotas, Labor 2.1 and the Greens 0.6. This will be two Liberals, two Labor and one Green.

In summary, Labor is likely to win ten of the 25 seats, the Liberals eight and the Greens five, with two in doubt, one Labor vs Greens and one Labor vs Liberal. In 2016, the result was 12 Labor, 11 Liberals, two Greens. The current Labor/Green coalition has easily retained power.

Queensland Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor

The Queensland election will be held on October 31. A Newspoll, conducted October 9-14 from a sample of 1,001, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a three-point gain for Labor since a late July Newspoll. Labor’s lead is the same as in a YouGov poll that I covered in early October. YouGov conducts Newspoll, so it is effectively the same pollster.

Primary votes were virtually identical to that YouGov poll, at 37% Labor, 37% LNP, 11% Greens and 9% One Nation; the only difference a one-point drop for the Greens.

63% were satisfied with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s performance and 33% were dissatisfied, for a net approval of +30. These figures are identical to a September Newspoll of the Victorian and Queensland premiers’ ratings.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had a net approval of -7, up one point since the late July Newspoll. Palaszczuk led Frecklington as better premier by 57-32 (57-26 in July).

More state polls: NSW and Victoria

Channel 10 commissioned a uComms NSW poll after revelations of Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s affair with former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire. 63% said Berejiklian should not resign, and just 28% thought she should go.

The only information provided on voting intentions was that the Coalition led Labor by 38-30. William Bowe says that uComms includes undecided in the initial table, and that this implies little change from the 2019 election result.

A YouGov poll for The Sunday Telegraph gave Berejiklian a 68-26 approval rating. By 49-36, voters did not think she had done anything wrong. By 60-29, they wanted her to stay as premier.

A Victorian SMS Morgan poll, conducted October 12-13 from a sample of 899, gave Labor a 51.5-48.5 lead, unchanged since late September. Primary votes were 40% Labor (up one), 40% Coalition (up 0.5) and 9% Greens (down one). Premier Daniel Andrews had a 59-41 approval rating (61-39 previously).

Trump still down by double digits nationally

The FiveThirtyEight national polls aggregate currently gives Joe Biden a 10.6% lead over Donald Trump (52.4% to 41.8%). It’s somewhat closer in the key states with Biden leading by 7.9% in Michigan, 7.8% in Wisconsin, 6.8% in Pennsylvania, 4.0% in Florida and 3.9% in Arizona.

Pennsylvania has returned to being the “tipping-point” state, and is currently polling 3.8% better for Trump than nationally. But Trump needs to get within five points to make the Electoral College competitive.

There appears to be a new surge of coronavirus in the US: over 70,000 new cases were recorded Friday, the highest since late July. Trump is perceived to have handled coronavirus poorly, so the more it is in the headlines, the worse it will probably get for him.The Conversation

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Can I visit my boyfriend? My parents? Go fishing or bushwalking? Coronavirus rules in the ACT and South Australia explained



Flickr/Chris Fithall, CC BY

Michael Lund, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, The Conversation

Editor’s note: this article adds to the information we already published for New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, and we will endeavour to update with information as we are able to collect it.

What you can and can’t do under the coronavirus restrictions seem to vary from place to place so no wonder people have turned to Google for answers.

According to Google Trends, some of the top coronavirus searches nationally in the last few days include “can I visit my parents coronavirus Australia?”, “can I go fishing during coronavirus?” and “can I go for a drive during coronavirus Australia?”

“Can I visit my boyfriend during coronavirus Australia?” was also a common one.




Read more:
Can I visit my boyfriend? My parents? Can I go fishing or bushwalking? Coronavirus rules in NSW, Queensland and Victoria explained


This time we asked legal experts – Benedict Sheehy in the Australian Capital Territory and Mark Giancaspro in South Australia – to help shed some light on what the new rules might mean for residents of their state or territory.

Obviously things are changing quickly so best to keep an eye on the latest information from the ACT and South Australia, as well as the federal government.

Can I visit my parents?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Benedict Sheehy, ACT: The ACT government is rolling over a set of declarations and there are day by day changes. That is what you might hope for with a small population and a government that is seeking to be flexible.

The declarations are currently less restrictive than those in New South Wales and Victoria. They include fines of $8,000 for breaches by individuals.

The declarations have the same emphasis on reducing gatherings of more than a few people, through to mandatory closure of “non-essential” venues such as gyms, restaurants and museums in line with the national government.

The declarations are likely to become more restrictive in line with spread of COVID-19 and national government policy. Like other parts of Australia there are uncertainties about specific aspects, particularly how they will be interpreted by the police and ordinary people.

At this stage there aren’t tough restrictions. Visits by children who do not normally live with their parents are permitted for “care and support”, including food delivery and other assistance. Visits by friends are also permitted.

The declarations aim to restrict unnecessary visits rather than provide a comprehensive lockdown of elders living at home. But aged care facilities are restricted.

Mark Giancaspro, SA: The SA government has taken direction from the federal government in advising South Australian residents to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go outside. There are fines of $1,000 for people who fail to follow the rules on self-isolating.

“Non-essential” visits include social visits to family and friends. But in SA, gatherings of ten people or fewer are currently permitted provided social distancing rules are adhered to (though a limit of two people per gathering is “encouraged”).

If your parents are in a residential aged care facility then a recent direction from the Chief Executive of SA Health prohibits visitation.

In any event, the federal government advises those aged 70 or over (or 65+ with chronic medical conditions) to avoid contact with others to reduce risk of infection.

An obvious exception, which is regarded as “essential” contact, is where care or support are being provided by the visitor.




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Can I go fishing or bushwalking?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Benedict Sheehy, ACT: There is no specific restriction but considerable uncertainty. Campgrounds, playgrounds and information centres in Namadgi National Park and the Parks and Gardens facilities are closed.

Most wildlife areas and parks are still open “providing the community access to nature for recreation, health and wellbeing”. The declarations allow non-social outdoor exercise.

As things stand people can apparently go bushwalking or fishing as long as they are not in a closed location (sometimes still closed after the bushfires) and maintain physical distancing 1.5m from others.

Mark Giancaspro, SA: Again, SA is taking advice from the federal government and stipulates that South Australians may leave home for “essentials”, including exercise “in a public space such as a park”, with a limit of two people applying.

South Australians are permitted to visit parks, including bush and walking tracks, provided they have not been ordered to isolate and the parks are in their local neighbourhood. Most South Australian parks remain open to local visitors.

There is no firm direction as to fishing but the federal government said Australians are required to stay home unless it is essential they go outside.

Recreational fishing, therefore, would not be deemed essential. But if this is in the course of employment or to attain seafood for consumption, this would appear to count as an “essential” activity and be allowed (subject to social distancing requirements).




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Can I go for a drive?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Benedict Sheehy, ACT: Occupancy in major carparks appears to be down by around 80% . There are no reports of police pulling over motorists with questions about whether travel is essential.

Public transport and taxis are still operating. The expectation is that people will use common sense. Public and private transport will be used for travel to workplaces with an essential status, childcare, for buying food and other supplies, visiting the doctor (queues for flu shots in several locations) and visiting friends.

Mark Giancaspro, SA: Yes, provided this is for the purposes of undertaking an “essential activity”. This includes travelling to: markets for food shopping; public spaces such as parks for exercise; medical facilities or pharmacies for appointments or to collect medications; to work (if you cannot work from home); or to another person’s home to provide them with vital care or support.

It is otherwise required that you stay home and avoid travel.

If you drive beyond the state borders, which is highly discouraged, you may be subject to entry requirements. On return you will also be subject to strict measures including compulsory isolation for 14 days.




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If coronavirus cases don’t grow any faster, our health system will probably cope


Can I visit my boyfriend/girlfriend?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Benedict Sheehy, ACT: People are still visiting loved ones or friends, subject to restriction on visits by people who are quarantined.

You are not permitted to visit boyfriends/girlfriends if either are subject to any are in self-isolation (people who have been diagnosed as having COVID 19) or self-quarantine (people who are travellers returning to the ACT from an international trip).

Mark Giancaspro, SA: Yes, provided you adhere to the limitation as to gatherings of people, as well as the social distancing requirements.




Read more:
The coronavirus lockdown could test your relationship. Here’s how to keep it intact (and even improve it)


Can I go for a walk around my neighbourhood or sit on a park bench?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Benedict Sheehy, ACT: The declarations allow outdoor exercise and walking to the shops. The restriction emphasises physical distancing rather than a curfew or ban on being outdoors.

The declarations contains no specific instruction concerning park benches.

Mark Giancaspro, SA: Yes. In fact, this is recommended if you plan to exercise, as open spaces provide opportunities to stay active and healthy while also abiding by social distance requirements.

This is again subject to limitations on the number of people assembling. You should not go for a walk or sit on a park bench with more than one other person.




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Coronavirus: tiny moments of pleasure really can help us through this stressful time


The Conversation


Michael Lund, Commissioning Editor, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australia: Bushfire Crisis Update


At last, Australia has a Modern Slavery Act. Here’s what you’ll need to know



File 20181202 194947 1tlfap1.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Soon we’ll have a much better idea of what we are buying, and companies will be shamed into sourcing products better.
Shutterstock

Paul Redmond, University of Technology Sydney

It has taken years, but after votes in the Senate and House of Representatives last week, Australia has a Modern Slavery Act.

It’ll take effect on January 1.

But what difference will it make?

First, what is modern slavery?

Britain abolished slavery on its own soil in 1833. It abolished the most egregious forms of child labour a century later.

But slavery and child labour are still being used to make the products Britons buy, just as they are being used to make the products Australians buy.




Read more:
How to keep slave-caught seafood off your plate


Increasing integrated global supply chains have made it hard to tell whether even products that are stamped “Made in Australia” have at some stage used slaves or underage children as part of the production process.

Forcibly detained adults and children work in industries including fishing, cocoa, cotton, clothing, cannabis, construction and prostitution.

The term “modern slavery” refers only to the worst forms of exploitation, and not to other serious breaches of human rights such as the denial of freedom of association or the denial of worker safety, such as at Rana Plaza clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh in which more than 1,000 garment workers died when their building collapsed in 2013.




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The International Labour Organisation believes that 21 million people worldwide are forced labourers, half of them in the Asia-Pacific region.

What will be required

As with the British Act, Australia’s will require businesses and other organisations above a certain size (consolidated revenue of A$100 million) to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and the action they have taken to assess and address those risks, and the effectiveness of their response.

Smaller businesses will be able to report voluntarily.

To ensure high-level engagement, the statement has to be approved by the board of directors or equivalent and signed by a director.




Read more:
We analysed 101 companies’ statements on modern slavery – here’s what we found


The statements will be publicly available on a central register maintained by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth government itself, and those of its entities that satisfy the reporting revenue threshold, will also have to prepare a statement.

What will not be required

Two controversial omissions are penalties and independent oversight.

The government was unwilling to impose a penalty for failing to lodge a statement or for lodging an incomplete statement.

This needn’t be fatal. The requirement and the public register means that companies that don’t report properly can be “named and shamed” by non-government organisations. Consumer pressure can itself become a sanction.




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The Modern Slavery Bill is a start, but it won’t guarantee us sweeter chocolate


The UK experience does not encourage optimism as about compliance.

In response to these concerns, Senate amendments have empowered the minister to name and shame his or herself, publicly calling out continued instances of non-compliance and reporting to parliament annually on compliance trends.

Australia’s parliamentary inquiry and a good many of the submissions strongly supported the appointment of an independent statutory anti-slavery commissioner with the authority and resources to oversee compliance.

The government will instead establish a departmental unit to help business address slavery risks and prepare statements.




Read more:
Should Australia have a Modern Slavery Act?


The Labor party supports both penalties and the appointment of an independent commissioner.

It is possible that both requirements will be in place before the first modern slavery statements are due on June 30, 2020.

NSW has also passed its own Modern Slavery Act, due to take effect after the Commonwealth Act commences. It imposes a lower revenue reporting threshold of $50 million, and provides for penalties for businesses that do not comply, of up to A$1.1 million.

It also creates the post of Independent NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

What now

American baseballer Yogi Berra said that when we come to a fork in the road, we should take it. Wise advice. We have two ways forward and should take both. In truth, they converge.

First, we need to monitor compliance levels, and determine whether penalties and independent oversight are needed. And we need to set up processes that ensure the reports are of good quality.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide a guide. Happily, the Act adopts these principles.

The other path is to address the broader harm that Australian businesses can do, beyond incorporating slavery into products that are sold in Australia.




Read more:
We need to combat forced labour and in-work poverty – Brazil and India offer some lessons


The Guiding Principles help here too, outlining the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights and to provide remedies wherever they operate.

This responsibility extends to our mining companies, 200 in Africa alone, who should respect human rights whether or not slavery is incorporated in products they sell back here.

And it extends to technology companies whose platforms put people at risk such as Facebook’s possible role in the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Slavery is important, but there is more to human rights than slavery.

The Act is a start, quite a good one. We will need more.The Conversation

Paul Redmond, Sir Gerard Brennan Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Should Australia have a Modern Slavery Act?



File 20170613 10220 17wat11
Businessman Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola are strong advocates of anti-slavery measures.
AAP/Alan Porritt

Fiona McGaughey, University of Western Australia; Dave Webb, University of Western Australia, and Peta-Jane Hogg, University of Western Australia

There has been a flurry of activity recently in relation to establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia. This has included a parliamentary inquiry and Labor’s recent policy release on the topic.

Is slavery a problem in Australia?

First, there is no doubt that activities associated with modern slavery, such as human trafficking, servitude and forced labour, are grave human rights issues, requiring a dedicated and co-ordinated response.

Governments cannot solve the problem on their own. It is a particular issue in countries like India, but also occurs in Australia.

Between 2004 and 2016, the Australian Federal Police received almost 700 referrals relating to suspected human trafficking and slavery-related crimes, though only 17 people have so far been convicted of these offences.

Most recently, in February 2017, two men pleaded guilty to charges of servitude relating to their treatment of Taiwanese workers in Brisbane.

Recent media reports of exploitation of migrant workers in Western Australian farms and market gardens, Victorian farms, and in 7-Eleven retail stores nationwide, suggests this is a real – but often hidden – issue in Australia.

What developments are underway for a Modern Slavery Act in Australia?

Moves are underway in Australia to introduce new laws to tackle slavery that will operate outside the existing criminal law framework.

On February 15, a parliamentary inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia was launched. The terms of reference for the inquiry specifically refer to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act and to relevant findings from the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s 2013 report Trading Lives: Modern Day Human Trafficking.

Although the UK’s Modern Slavery Act has seven parts, including protection for victims, civil and criminal provisions, new maritime enforcement mechanisms, and the establishment of an anti-slavery commissioner, the focus has overwhelmingly been on its impact on businesses.

The act and associated regulations require businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more to disclose what they are doing to eliminate slavery and trafficking from their supply chains and their own businesses. It appears there is support from people in the business community, and faith-based and other non-governmental organisations, for a similar business reporting initiative in Australia.

A key promoter of the introduction of a Modern Slavery Act here is businessman and philanthropist Andrew Forrest. He and his wife Nicola established Walk Free, a Perth-based international non-governmental organisation with a mission to “end modern slavery in our generation”.
Walk Free was one of the 173 organisations and individuals to make a submission to the parliamentary inquiry.

Although submissions varied in terms of how modern slavery and trafficking might best be tackled, there was broad, in-principle support for the introduction of an act. This includes submissions by businesses such as Qantas and Wesfarmers, both of which already report on their anti-slavery efforts under the UK legislation.

There is apparent bipartisan support for the initiative. The Coalition government has been exploring options for business reporting over the last several years through the Supply Chains Working Group set up as part of the National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery.

Labor has expressed strong support for the introduction of new business reporting obligations, proposing to go further than the UK by imposing penalties on businesses in Australia that fail to report on their anti-slavery efforts.

In the UK, as well as at an international level, compliance with such reporting obligations is primarily driven by considerations of public opinion.

What international obligations exist?

Several voluntary international obligations relevant to modern slavery exist. Globally, more than 9,400 organisations from over 160 countries have committed as participants to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). This is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, actively engaging in responsible human rights and labour practices.

The Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) brings together UNGC participants, other leading companies, non-profit organisations and universities – including the University of Western Australia – to advance these same goals in Australia.

Furthermore, the UN has guiding principles on business and human rights. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has recently established an advisory group on the implementation of these principles.

OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises also apply to Australian businesses. For example, the associated dispute resolution mechanism has been used to bring a complaint against security firm GS4 Australia for conditions and alleged abuse of detainees on Manus Island.

Will an Australian Modern Slavery Act prove effective?

Last week’s visit to Australia by Kevin Hyland, the UK anti-slavery commissioner, was timely.

Although the UK legislation has received a cautious welcome so far, it is too early to judge whether it will have any meaningful impact on reducing worker exploitation.

In Australia, longstanding criminal laws against trafficking and slavery have not prevented their occurrence and, for the most part, have not been relied on by authorities to prosecute exploitation. The effectiveness of pursuing employers for the exploitation of migrant workers via the Fair Work Ombudsman is also limited.

By extending the responsibility to tackle exploitation to include business and not just government, it is hoped that the introduction of an Australian Modern Slavery Act will help tackle worker exploitation. However, there remains a risk that this initiative will continue the trend of side-stepping the root causes of worker exploitation in this country.

Vulnerability to workplace exploitation is closely connected to the regulation of migration and labour.

The ConversationTherefore, as well as receiving the support of Australia’s business community, any proposed solution to this problem must engage with government policies and practices affecting migration and migrant labour to reduce worker vulnerability.

Fiona McGaughey, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Western Australia; Dave Webb, Associate Professor of Marketing and Business Ethics, University of Western Australia, and Peta-Jane Hogg, PhD Candidate in Law, University of Western Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Australia: Catastrophic Bushfire Conditions Generate Massive Bushfire Across the South East


South-Eastern Australia is in the grip of a heatwave with temperatures threatening the record books. Temperatures across the country are reaching between 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), with the hottest recorded temperatures in many centres threatened, as well as the highest temperature every recorded in Australia.

For more on the fires visit:
Battlefront NSW: State on bushfire red alert | News.com.au.