Policy Briefs

Policy Brief: Human Trafficking: Why Australia must Introduce Ethical Supply-chain Legislation


Thai fishing boat in the Gulf of Thailand. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

This policy brief addresses Australia’s complicity in slavery and human trafficking in the seafood supply—chains of our major importers of fresh and frozen Thai seafood products. Australia does not condone nor permit any form of slavery, yet bonded labour, forced labour and trafficking are acknowledged as endemic in the Thai fishing industry, the supplier of nearly all of Australia’s lower—value seafood products and Australia’s major source country for imported prawns. This disparity in labour practices between our domestic and international producers not only creates lopsided business forces with which Australian seafood producers cannot compete; it also creates and sustains market demand for these products and implicitly perpetuates and condones practices of slavery universally acknowledged as abhorrent and in breach of every international slavery convention to which Australia is a signatory.

In view of the Thai government’s continuing inability to effectively address the problem, and given the dual importance of the Thai seafood industry to Australia together with Australia’s obligations under a raft of international trafficking conventions which it has signed and ratified, this paper recommends introducing ethical supply chain legislation to Australia.

Finally this paper calls on the federal government to introduce a mandatory labeling scheme clearly stating the country of origin of all fresh and frozen imported seafood products.



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