The Future is Co-operative: Making Mutual Enterprise Happen

Melbourne, Friday-Saturday, 28-29 April 2017

The unofficial godfather of co-operatives in Victoria, Race Mathews, has released his magnum opus, Of Labour and Liberty: Distributism in Victoria (1891-1966). To celebrate this landmark publication, the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) will support two days of events in Melbourne that combine engagement with leaders of co-operative thought and practice and opportunities for skill-sharing for those interested in co-operatively building the Australian economy for the common good.

The events are:

  • Labour, Liberty and Co-operatives – in discussion with Race Mathews
    6-8 pm, Friday28 April 2017, Kelvin Club, 14-30 Melbourne Place, Melbourne VIC 3000
  • The Future is Co-operative: making mutual enterprise happen – Symposium and Skill-share
    9 am-4 pm, Saturday, 29 April 2017, Church of All Nations, 180 Palmerston St, Carlton VIC 3053
Register online

“A present, however splendid it may be, bears the imprint of its expiry to the extent that it becomes separated from the future” – Fr. José María Arizmendiarrieta Madariaga, founder of the Mondragon worker co-operative movement in Basque Spain.

Labour, Liberty and Co-operatives – in discussion with Race Mathews

When: 6-8 pm, Friday, 28 April 2017

Where: Kelvin Club, 14-30 Melbourne Place, Melbourne VIC 3000

Race Matthews will discuss his new book Of Labour and Liberty: Distributism in Victoria 1891-1966 (Monash University Press, 2017) and the case for an evolved distributism for contemporary Australia with commentary on co-operatives as a vehicle for this vision from:

  • Melina Morrison (CEO, Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals) – supporting the co-operative movement in Victoria; and
  • Godfrey Moase (Assistant General Branch Secretary, National Union of Workers) – co-operation and the future of work.
  • The Hon. Andrew Leigh MP via video message (Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Co-chair Parliamentary Friends of Mutuals and Co-operatives)
Register online

The Future is Co-operative: Making Mutual Enterprise Happen – Symposium and Skill-Share

When: 9 am-4 pm, Saturday, 29 April 2017

Where: Church of All Nations, 180 Palmerston St, Carlton VIC 3053

A day for Victorian co-operators, supporters and anyone interested to meet for workshops, skill-sharing and discussion including the launch of a Victorian chapter of the BCCM.

Program

MC: Murali Maheswaran, The Still Dynamic

9 – 9:15 am – Introducing the day, Antony McMullen, Chancellor of the 888 Antipodean Order of Froth Blowers Co-operative and all round co-op nerd.

9:15 – 9:45 am – Learning from co-operative history – Race Mathews, author Of Labour and Liberty and the unofficial godfather of the Victorian co-operative movement.

9:45 – 10:30 am – The national vision for a mutual economy – Melina Morrison (BCCM) (and Launch of Co-operatives Victoria – the Victorian Chapter of the BCCM).

10:30 – 11 am – Platform Cooperativism NYC – bringing the lessons back to Australia – Darren Sharp, co-founder of Commons Transition Coalition and Australian Editor of Shareable

11:00 -11:15am – Break

11:15 – 12:15 pm – Making it Happen – panel discussion 
Moderator – Angela Perry – member of the Prime Minister’s Community and Business Partnership Committee and Chair, Employee Ownership Australia and New Zealand 

  • Anna Boddenberg – Earthworker Co-operative organiser
  • Joanna Battersby – CEO of Supporting Independent Living Co-operative (SILC)
  • Renata Feruglio – former co-founder of Temple Brewing and now co-founder of The 888 Antipodean Order of Froth Blowers Co-operative (and brewery)
  • Carolyn Suggate – co-founder of Organic and Regenerative Investment Co-operative (ORICoop)

12:15 – 1:15 pm – Lunch

1:15 – 2:30 pm – Co-operative Conversations Skill-share 

  • Why co-op? Designing for flourishing – Murali Maheswaran, The Still Dynamic and The 888 Antipodean Order of Froth Blowers Co-operative and Antony McMullen, fellow Froth Blower and co-opreneur
  • Regional place-based co-operation – Ian McBurney co-founder of BHive Bendigo (a prospective regional platform co-operative startup) and Elsie L’Huillier – Commons Transition Coalition and Founding Mentor of BHive Bendigo
  • Social investment in co-operation – Carolyn Suggate – co-founder of Organic and Regenerative Investment Co-operative (ORICoop) and Angela Perry – member of the Prime Minister’s Community and Business Partnership Committee and Chair, Employee Ownership Australia and New Zealand
  • Community service co-operation – Joanna Battersby – CEO of Supporting Independent Living Co-operative (SILC)
  • Co-operatively democratising energy – Godfrey Moase, Assistant General Branch Secretary of the National Union of Workers
  • Incubating co-operative agriculture today – Cameron Neill, co-founder of Ethical Fields and former head of Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand

3:15 – 3:30 pm – Break

3:30 – 3:45 pm – Closing Remarks – Race Mathews – author Of Labour and Liberty.

Further details TBC.

Register online

Summary of Of Labour and Liberty

What will the future of work, social freedom and employment look like? In an era of increased job insecurity and social dislocation, is it possible to reshape economics along democratic lines in a way that genuinely serves the interests of the community? Of Labour and Liberty arises from Race Mathews’s half a century and more of political and public policy involvement. It responds to evidence of a precipitous decline in active citizenship, resulting from a loss of confidence in politics, politicians, parties and parliamentary democracy; the rise of ‘lying for hire’ lobbyism; increasing concentration of capital in the hands of a wealthy few; and corporate wrong-doing and criminality.

It also questions whether political democracy can survive indefinitely in the absence of economic democracy – of labour hiring capital rather than capital labour. It highlights the potential of the social teachings of the Catholic Church and the now largely forgotten Distributist political philosophy and program that originated from them as a means of bringing about a more equal, just and genuinely democratic social order. It describes and evaluates Australian attempts to give effect to Distributism, with special reference to Victoria. And with an optimistic view to future possibilities, it documents the support and advocacy of Pope Francis, and ownership by some 83,000 workers of the Mondragon co-operatives in Spain.

About Race Mathews

Race Mathews is a former Chief of Staff to Gough Whitlam, Federal MP, Victorian MP and Minister, Local Government Councillor, academic, speech therapist and primary teacher. He has held numerous positions in the Australian Labor Party and the co-operative and credit union movements and has written and spoken widely about their history, attributes, and activities. A major focus of his doctoral research has been the great complex of worker-owned co-operatives at Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain and its origins in the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

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