Bill echoes Christian abolitionists
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
William Wilberforce made this statement about slavery to the British Parliament in 1791 and, in tabling a Modern Slavery Bill to the NSW Upper House last month, Christian Democrat MP Paul Green ended his speech with this same quote.
Mr Green, a member of the NSW Legislative Council in Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party, has taken a stand against human trafficking – a modern form of slavery that includes practices such as servitude, forced labour, debt bondage, organ trafficking and deceptive recruiting as well as forced marriage and childhood brides.
The Bill was tabled in early March, along with a petition signed by church leaders including Archbishop Glenn Davies, who was in the chamber to see the tabling and hear Mr Green’s speech.
“The data does not reflect the true levels of modern slavery due to its very nature of being a clandestine activity that hides in the shadow of our communities on a daily basis,” the MP said.
“However, according to the Global Slavery Index 2016, it is estimated that 45.8 million people worldwide, and more than 4000 people in Australia, are victims of some form of slavery.
“Drugs are sold once and used, but people can be sold time and time again.”
The Bill is a product of the Inquiry into Human Trafficking in NSW (which Mr Green chaired) and the Modern Slavery Bill working group.
“Child sex trafficking is a much bigger problem than most people realise,” Mr Green said, referring particularly to the abuse of children live streamed on the internet. “It is deeply disturbing and heartbreaking. It shakes one to the core to contemplate that happening to any child.
“It is even more excruciating to imagine that sometimes long after the abuse has ceased the images and videos continue to be distributed on the dark web like a double-edged sword, causing additional pain and suffering for the victim. “
Archbishop Davies said the bill deserved “the wholehearted support of the Parliament and the people of NSW”.
"Such practices are a blight on our society, as they were in the days of William Wilberforce, and I urge all people, especially Christians, to join the fight to eradicate slavery in all its forms," he said.
The Bill passed on the 3rd May.
"The Bill paves the way for the appointment of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, empowers government and commercial organisations to slave-proof supply-lines, and ensures a victim-centred approach for those who have fallen prey to this heinous crimes in our state." Mr Green said in a media statement . It also strengthens laws with regard to child forced marriage and cybersex trafficking.
“All people are born equal under God and no one person should be owned like an animal. Each person is worthy of full value and full respect. I am humbled that today NSW has been able to lead the way and set a national benchmark,” Mr Green said.
Photo: Faith leaders, including Dr Davies, at Parliament supporting the bill.