BCCM urges broader Budget thinking in response to the pandemic

07 February 2022

  • Business co-ops are a key part of economic growth and Budget repair
  • Regionalisation needs to be a prioritised focus of economic policy
  • Greater self-reliance will help overcome supply chain disruptions
  • Regional commitment could underpin a $100 billion agriculture sector by 2030

The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) today said the Federal Budget needs to restore confidence there is a clear plan for navigating the economic challenges of the COVID pandemic.

Handing its Budget submission to Treasury, the BCCM said a greater focus on the mutuals and co-operatives sector would have both short and long-term benefits.

As part of its submission, the BCCM has proposed the acceleration, promotion and expansion of regional capacity, jobs and economic growth through a regional co-operatives activation program, “Thriving Regions”.

BCCM Chief Executive Melina Morrison said the COVID pandemic had created a unique opportunity: “People and businesses have been moving to the regions as a result of the pandemic, generating economic and social value.”

“It will be important to lock that value in for the benefit of the regions where the growth is taking place,” Ms Morrison added.

The BCCM is the peak industry body representing co-operatives and mutuals with 96 member organisations covering more than 11 million individual members, including 60,000 businesses. The sector as a whole has an estimated turnover of $35 billion.

The BCCM said interruptions to global supply chains caused by the pandemic highlighted a need for greater Australian manufacturing.

“We should be growing existing manufacturing businesses and re-establishing a larger mid-sized business sector to produce more finished goods onshore,” Ms Morrison said.

“Filling in the missing middle of Australian manufacturing can be achieved through co-operatives,” she said. “By working together in co-operatives, individuals and SMEs can accelerate expansion, build capacity in regional supply chains while also contributing to local economic recovery.”

“Co-operatives would support growth and resilience in a range of sectors including food and beverage manufacturing, as well as renewable energy, retail, banking, housing and community services,” she said.

Ms Morrison also said the government’s target of a $100 billion agricultural sector by 2030 would be more achievable with a thriving co-operatives sector in the regions.

“Co-operatives recycle value within regions at a significantly higher rate,” she said. “This efficient local multiplier effect amplifies stimulus efforts.”

“The co-operative model is an under-utilised economic development strategy that allows communities and business owners in the regions to pool their resources, knowledge and market access.”

The BCCM’s proposed 3-year program “Thriving Regions” would deliver education, information and business capability to incubate new co-operatives, attract investment and innovation and build on the experience of existing collaborations across a range of established and emerging regional sectors.

 

Photo: Alastair Anderson, Norco Foods Operations Manager, at the NORCO ice cream factory. Credit Paul Harris.

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