The Australian Senate has passed a bill aimed at eliminating Australia's involvement in overseas slave labor. The Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced by Forced Labor) Bill 2021, proposed by independent senator Rex Patrick, aims to prohibit the importation of goods made entirely or partially by forced labor.
Senator Patrick told the Senate, said that slave labor is despicable. It has a terrible human cost, and it puts Australian firms in an unfair position when competing against imports. The Chinese communist regime's massive and systematic persecution of the Uighur people, including the exploitation of the shackled Uighurs as a captive labor force, is undeniable. Uighur forced labor is prevalent in Xinjiang's huge cotton output and spreads to a wide range of Chinese businesses, including multinational brands' supply chains.
Any employment in which individuals are forced to work against their will under the fear of starvation, incarceration, violence, death, or other types of great hardship is considered forced labor.
Senator Patrick said that Australia is to be faithful to the democratic ideals they embrace. They need to make it clear to the Chinese government that this is unjust and unacceptable.
However, the Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced by Forced Labor) Bill 2021 has a far broader reach than only China's human rights violations.
If the bill passes the House of Representatives, commodities from any nation that are discovered to have been manufactured using forced labor will face the same sanctions as other forbidden things including pornography, guns and other weapons, ammunition, and counterfeit goods.
Senator Patrick claims that global businesses such as Apple, Amazon, and H&M have benefited from the forced labor of Uighurs in China.
Senator Patrick's bill was defeated in the Senate, with the Coalition arguing that it should be "delayed" until the government completed more study.
Liberal senator Eric Abetz said that every single clause needs to be thoroughly examined to ensure that there are no unanticipated repercussions or circumstances. Senator Patrick, on the other hand, urged that action be taken right now, calling a two- to three-year wait through incremental legislative and administrative action "unacceptable.
He added that this action cannot be postponed any longer... They need to send a strong political message to Beijing and the countless foreign businesses who have been pleased to ignore China's huge forced labor exploitation. They need to deliver that message now, before the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, when the Chinese Communist Party is planning a huge international propaganda event.
Despite the Coalition's opposition to Senator Patrick's bill, Labor Party support and backing from other crossbenchers such as the Greens and One Nation gave the bill the majority vote is required to succeed.
Murray Watt, a Labor senator, said that they typically speak about slavery in the past tense... although it is still a reality for many millions of people throughout the world. Senator Watt stated before the Senate that an estimated 25 million individuals are compelled to conduct forced labor across the world.
He added that (Labor) appreciates today's introduction of this private senator's bill because they recognize that more has to be done to combat fraud and enslavement, and they recognize how prevalent the problem has become.
Senator Patrick praised the Senate's decision, calling it an "essential step forward in the worldwide fight to combat modern slavery. Before becoming formal Australian legislation, the bill must be passed by the House of Representatives in the following months.
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