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Calls For Anti-Slavery Laws To Protect 4000 People Affected Right Now

The numbers are alarming

Calls For Anti-Slavery Laws To Protect 4000 People Affected Right Now

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Federal parliament has been urged to introduce anti-slavery legislation with revelations some 4000 people are affected by modern-day slavery in Australia.

Mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest discussed the issue in Sydney today, revealing domestic and migrant workers across seafood, agriculture and sex industry were the most affected, AAP reports.

"I would like to assure every single Australian out there that modern slavery sadly is a fact of life here in Australia," Mr Forrest told the joint committee examining the issue, calling the figures the "tip of the iceberg".

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, an estimated 45.8 million people are in some form of modern slavery worldwide.

Mr Forrest said Australian companies should exercise greater accountability across their supply chains, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

"Unfortunately those tens of millions of people serve the interests of Australian consumers who unwittingly keep people enslaved in other parts of the world," he said.

The billionaire businessman adopt similar legislation recently introduced in the UK, requiring large companies to provide annual reports that set out the steps they've taken to ensure their supply chains of free from slavery.

And while also pushing for the appointment of an independent anti-slavery commissioner, he discouraged imposing heavy penalties on businesses who don't self-audit.

"The prospect of severe penalties for industries who do look for slavery in their supply chains and find it is the exact reason why they won't look," he said, arguing companies should be encouraged to do the right thing.

The Fortescue Metals Group chairman set up his own anti-slavery advocacy group, the Walk Free Foundation, after discovering one of his company's suppliers in the Middle East was "trapping employees" in slave-like conditions.

Last month he donated $400 million to a number of causes - including $75 million to eradicate slavery - in what was the single biggest philanthropic donation in Australia's history.

Mr Forrest has urged the federal government to lead by example and use suppliers who properly audit.