2023 National Mutual Economy Report
The tenth annual National Mutual Economy (NME) Report, incorporating the Top 100 co-operatives and mutuals in Australia list, marks ten years of landmark research on Australia’s co-operative and mutual movement underpinned by the Australian Co-operative and Mutual Enterprise Index (ACMEI) research project undertaken by Professor Tim Mazzarol.
This is the tenth annual report on the scale and performance of the Australian co-operative and mutual sector. The report aims to map the size, composition and overall health of the sector using the Australian Co-operative and Mutual Enterprise Index (ACMEI), which started in 2012 with the first national data collection process in 2014.
The ACMEI is a long-term research project undertaken by the University of Western Australia. Its purpose is to provide a better understanding of co-operative and mutual enterprise (CME) businesses and their contribution to the national economy.
Despite representing some of the largest businesses in their sectors and being found across a range of industries, the overall size, structure and contribution of the CME sector in Australia is not well understood due to data gaps, difficulties in definition and lack of clarity over which firms should be identified as CMEs.
For this year’s report on the ACMEI, see Mazzarol, T. (2023), Australia’s Leading Co-operative and Mutual Enterprises in 2023, CEMI Discussion Paper Series, DP 2301, cemi.com.au, Centre for Entrepreneurial Management and Innovation.
All financial statistics presented in this report are in Australian dollars unless otherwise indicated.
The 2023 National Mutual Economy Report (NME 2023) was produced with the support of HCF, research by the University of Western Australia and the input of several CMEs.
From the University of Western Australia, we would like to thank Professor Tim Mazzarol for his contribution to this year’s report.
We would also like to acknowledge BCCM researcher Karl Coombe for leading the work on this year’s NME Report.
The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) marks its tenth anniversary this year, and we are proud to celebrate our accomplishments over the past decade. Despite enduring various challenges, including Covid, floods, fires, inflation and geo-political instability, the co-operative and mutual sector has remained steadfast in its commitment to co-operative principles, resulting in continued growth. Together, the movement has put people ahead of profits, whilst Australian co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs) are stronger overall.
This report represents the tenth edition of the National Mutual Economy (NME) Report and marks ten years of landmark research on Australia’s co-operative and mutual movement underpinned by the Australian Co-operative and Mutual Enterprise Index (ACMEI) research project undertaken by Professor Tim Mazzarol. The NME provides an essential platform for discussing economic patterns, the co-operative and mutual sector’s role, and the importance of encouraging partnerships and business collaboration for Australia’s benefit. The findings of the NME have been used to drive meaningful change and create an evidence base to advocate for better support for our sector.
In this report, we explore the performance of the CME sector during the 2021-2022 financial year, detailing the complex and evolving economic conditions affecting domestic and international markets. While some positives emerged, such as post-Covid restrictions easing, tight labour markets, rising interest rates, supply chain disruptions and strong inflationary pressures persisted. Despite such challenges, the leading 100 CMEs achieved a combined gross revenue of $37.76 billion, representing 10.8 per cent growth in turnover from the prior year. Furthermore, the sector’s aggregate assets grew by 7.2 per cent to $191.6 billion, indicating a solid financial foundation.
A case study on HunterNet Co-operative demonstrates an inspiring example of robust collaboration that supports regional economies through networking, knowledge exchange and innovation. HunterNet, which emerged as a champion of domestic manufacturing in the Hunter Region after deindustrialisation, offers a model to address the nation’s need to strengthen local supply chains.
With global instability, the post-pandemic world and climate concerns looming large, CMEs are more vital than ever to lead the way towards sustainable and equitable futures.
We thank HCF, SGS Economics & Planning and the University of Western Australia for their support in creating the 2023 report. Lastly, we appreciate the essential contribution and unwavering support of the co-operative and mutual sector, without whom this important research would not be possible.
Chief Executive Officer, Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals