Senate called on to tackle forced labor issue
The Senate will be asked on Monday to send a direct message to China about its widespread use of Uyghur forced labor.
Independent Senator Rex Patrick will seek all-party support for his bill to ban the importation of goods produced in whole or in part by forced labor.
“Under this bill, the importation into Australia of any goods that have been produced by forced labor will be subject to sanctions under the customs law,” said Senator Patrick.
“The bill is, I admit, something of a blunt instrument.
“But this is what is needed to thwart modern slavery, especially China’s massive use of forced labor. The action cannot be delayed any further.”
It is estimated that there are up to 46 million people enslaved in global production chains, not just in China.
Senator Patrick said there was compelling evidence that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang Province were subjected to forced labor.
Although there is strong support from Labor, the Greens and some members of the interbank, it is not clear whether senators from the coalition will support it.
In July, the United States Senate passed a law to the same effect.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law created a “rebuttable presumption” by assuming that products made in Xinjiang are made with forced labor and therefore banned under the Tariff Law of 1930, unless otherwise specified by US authorities.
The bipartite measure shifted the burden of proof to importers.