by Alan Thornhill
Julia Gillard has spoken out firmly against slavery, both in Australia and overseas.
The Prime Minister was addressing an International Women’s Day breakfast in Sydney.
“This year America has been celebrating 150 years since President Lincoln ended slavery,” she said.
“We imagine slavery as something from the pages of history.
“But it’s not.
“It’s hard to imagine from the safety and comfort we know, yet slavery still exists in our world and in our land,” the Prime Minister said.
“ In February this year I had the opportunity to meet with two women who were victims of human trafficking,” she added.
“They had been brought to Australia by their employers under false pretences.
“They had their passports taken from them.
“They weren’t allowed to leave the house without supervision.
“One of them wasn’t paid properly; the other wasn’t paid at all.
“When they challenged their employers, they were abused and threatened.
“That occurred here, in Australia,” Ms Gillard said.
“I was introduced to those women by Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and his wife Nicola, who were talking to me about their role in establishing ‘Walk Free’ – a global movement that aims to eradicate modern slavery.
“There are many things on which Mr Forrest and I do not agree but ending modern slavery is not one of them,” Ms Gillard said.
“Already we’ve been able to help around 200 women and their dependents in Australia, and today I pay tribute to the special role the Salvation Army has played in this,” she added said.
But as Australia’s first female Prime Minister, I’ve wanted us to do even more,” Ms Gillard declared.
“That’s why we passed the Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking Act which our Governor-General signed into law yesterday,” she added.
“Alongside these new laws, we are updating Australia’s National Action Plan to combat trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices, such as forced marriage – which will come into force next year,” Ms Gillard added, in a separate statement.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Friday December 13
The Dow Jones index falls 105 points to 15,739.
The $A drops to US 89.39US cents shortly after 8am, Sydney time
The Senate rises for the year, without passing government bills to abolish the carbon tax
Car industry workers’ plight to be high on the agenda, when the Prime Minister meets State premiers today
Australia’s unemployment rate rises slightly to 5.8 per cent in November 2013 (seasonally adjusted):ABS
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