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Retailers at the vanguard in tackling modern slavery

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THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has today released its submission to the Attorney General’s Departmental Review on the Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement. 

This follows the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, modern slavery is estimated to affect 45.8 million people across the world.  The complex and interconnected nature of many supply chains can cause major headaches for retailers when trying to eliminate unethical practices.

The Inquiry is investigating whether to introduce a mandatory reporting requirement for businesses and organisations with turnover exceeding $100 million annually.  Businesses would be required to investigate their supply chains and report on their efforts to stamp out instances of modern slavery.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the ARA had been undertaking comprehensive consultations with major retailers on how best to make both existing and new reporting guidelines meet community expectations.

Mr Zimmerman said many retailers already employed Ethical Sourcing Guidelines and were passionate about eliminating modern slavery from their supply chains.

“A collective approach will make a bigger impact, making it far easier for individual organisations to address instances of modern slavery in their supply chains,” Mr Zimmerman said.

However, Mr Zimmerman cautioned against imposing strict reporting requirements and said that any new regulations should be light-touch and flexible to encourage best practice across the industry.

“We believe a competitive, market-based approach to investigating and stopping modern slavery will produce better results, encouraging a ‘race-to-the-top’ mentality amongst retailers,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“We would also like to see further clarity for retailers and other organisations, including for concession retailers and resellers, as well as the financial impact of the extensive auditing which will be required to satisfy the reporting obligations.”

The ARA has been passionately working on modern slavery in recent months, hosting a series of roundtable discussions with retailers, universities and key stakeholders, alongside working with the Inquiry.

Mr Zimmerman called on the Inquiry to provide support and guidance to help retailers better-understand where modern slavery occurs in their supply chains and how best to address it.

To view the ARA’s submission on Modern Slavery in Supply Chains, click here.

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the retail industry’s peak representative body representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. The ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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ARA supportive of Aust-NZ dual network routing changes

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THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) are pleased to hear the ANZ Bank have agreed to route transactions on Dual Network Cards via the eftpos network, preserving consumer and merchant choice across all payment channels, and reducing transaction costs to retailers.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said, currently Point of Sale (POS) terminals only read the first contactless application on the chip, and automatically route the transaction according to this priority, which may be at a higher cost for merchants.

“These contactless transactions on Dual Network Cards currently take this choice away from consumers and merchants, making it more difficult to manage the costs associated with different payment products and networks,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“The ability to route transactions via the eftpos network instead of the current Visa and Mastercard schemes will save merchants significant costs.”

The ARA have estimated the additional costs to the economy when Dual Network Card transactions are routed via the current system is in excess of $290 million.

“We would encourage other banks and financial institutions to allow merchants to route their transactions via the preferred network,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Without open consumer payments and competitive domestic payment networks, merchant fees and consumer costs may rise.”

The ARA continue to meet with financial institutions and the Government to lower costs for both the merchant and consumer through advocating for the acceptance of any payment system at a low-cost.

“For consumers, it’s important to know what system your tap payment goes through, and for merchants it’s crucial to have a choice in routing,” Mr Zimmerman said.

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the retail industry’s peak representative body representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. The ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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Committee to discuss modern slavery with DFAT

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THE Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee of the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will hear from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) at a public hearing on Thursday 19 October 2017 for its inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.

The Sub-Committee is investigating whether elements of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 could be introduced in Australia, particularly the UK requirement for businesses and organisations to report on how they ensure their global supply chains are free of slavery and human trafficking.

Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub‑Committee, Mr Chris Crewther MP, said the sub-committee welcomed the opportunity to further discuss Australia’s approach to combatting modern slavery with Australia’s Ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking, Mr Andrew Goledzinowski AM, and other departmental representatives.

“We look forward to hearing further from DFAT about Australia’s efforts to combat modern slavery and human trafficking both here and around the world,” Mr Crewther said. “The Sub-Committee is particularly interested to hear about actions the Australian Government has undertaken since our last hearing, including the outcomes of the recent Bali Process Government and Business Forum held in Perth on 24-25 August”.

 

Public hearing details: 

11:00 am to 12:00 pm, Thursday 19 October
Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

The proceedings will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

Interested members of the public may wish to track the committee via the website

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AGL to meet Energy Committee

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THE House of Representatives Environment and Energy Committee will hear from AGL at a public hearing tomorrow for the inquiry into modernising Australia’s electricity grid.

The Chair of the Committee, Andrew Broad MP, said the Committee was looking forward to hearing from AGL about how it anticipates working with a modernised electricity grid, both in the short term and as the system continues to evolve.

“AGL brings a unique perspective to this inquiry.  As a generator of power as well as a retailer, AGL is well placed to provide evidence about what a modern grid should look like,” Mr Broad said.

The Committee will also hear from the Energy Consumers Australia, which represents residential and small business energy consumers.

The Deputy Chair of the Committee, Mr Pat Conroy MP, said the Committee was looking forward to hearing from users of energy about their priorities in a modernised grid.

“A modern grid needs to be able to meet the needs of all Australians, and users of energy are a voice we can’t ignore,” Mr Conroy said.

As part of the inquiry, the Committee is encouraging members of the community to share their views on the electricity system via an online questionnaire.

Further information about the inquiry, including submissions from organisations appearing at the hearings, is available on the inquiry website.

 

Public hearing details: 

10.00 am to 11.15 am, Thursday, 19 October 2017
Committee Room 1R4, Parliament House, Canberra


The proceedings will be broadcast live (audio only) at aph.gov.au/live.

Interested members of the public may wish to track the committee via the website

 

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Australia’s Antarctic science program

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THE future development of Australia’s Antarctic science program will be the focus of a public hearing of a parliamentary inquiry considering Australia’s Antarctic Territory on Thursday 19 October in Canberra.

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories will hear from a range of organisations and Australian Government agencies including the Australian Academy of Science, Geoscience Australia, and the Bureau of Meteorology.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority will also provide the Committee with an opportunity to better understand search and rescue activities and the prevention of shipping incidents and pollution in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic region.

Committee Chair, Mr Ben Morton MP, noted that “a robust and enduring scientific research program in the Australian Antarctic Territory underpins Australia’s influence as part of the Antarctic Treaty System.

Antarctica provides Australian scientists with a significant opportunity to undertake research that is firmly focused on the national interest and on broadening Australia’s collaborative arrangements and resource sharing opportunities.”

Further information, including submissions made to the inquiry, and the details of upcoming public hearings may be found on the Committee’s website.

Public hearing details: 

4:30 pm – 7:45 pm, Thursday, 19 October 2017
Committee Room 1R2, Parliament House, Canberra

4:30pm – 5:15pm: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (submission)

5:15pm – 6.00pm: Australian Academy of Science (submission)

6:15pm – 7.00pm: Geoscience Australia (submission)

7:00pm – 7:45pm: Bureau of Meteorology

The proceedings will be broadcast live (audio only) at aph.gov.au/live.

Interested members of the public may wish to track the committee via the website

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