Blueprint for an enterprising nation

A strong economy: It’s every Australian’s business

The last few years have presented a series of unprecedented challenges to Australia, some natural and local, with others global or geo-political. Droughts, bushfires, the global pandemic and volatile trade with China have each highlighted the importance of building greater self-reliance and resilience into the Australian economy.

Most recently, the pandemic has provided the opportunity to reset Australian business and to rebalance the economy towards the interests of the Australian people.

The ‘Blueprint for an Enterprising Nation’ is the BCCM’s policy platform for governments to support a strong economy with a strong co-operative and mutual sector. The business environment for co-operatives and mutuals has improved but there is still much to be done. Download the BCCM’s 2022 Blueprint for an enterprising nation ‘A strong economy: It’s every Australian’s business’ to find out more about our current policies.

Read the BCCM’s Housing Blueprint.

A world leading business environment for co-operatives and mutuals

Australia should be a world leading business environment for co-operatives and mutuals that reflects the best of the history and culture of Australian co-operative business. The policy, legislative, regulatory and business services environment play important role in deciding the success or otherwise of businesses. If we look around the world, it is these factors that have the biggest influence on the size and scope of the co-operative and mutual sectors in each country.

Australian co-operatives and mutuals need:

  • A facilitating business environment which enables them to reach their full potential
  • Practical support that helps to grow existing successful co-operative businesses
  • Support for new co-operative ventures that directly address some of our nation’s most pressing issues

Australia should be a world leading business environment for co-operatives and mutuals that reflects the best of the history and culture of Australian co-operative business.

The BCCM's policy Blueprint calls for parties to commit to:

A positive policy environment

Appoint a Federal Minister for co-operatives and mutuals

A Minister should be formally responsible for policy affecting co-operatives and mutuals across Australia. As Minister for CMEs, this would be an important cross-cutting responsibility and signal the significance that the Commonwealth places on the contribution of the CME sector and the fair treatment of collaborative enterprise.

The Australian Centre for Co-operative Business Growth

A national centre for co-operative business growth would deliver consistent, world leading business services to support co-operative education and business development nationwide. A partnership between Government and industry, its purpose is to facilitate collaboration between independent SME businesses in order to increase their productivity, profitability, their capacity to add-value and export.

Legislation

Maintain legacy assets for the purpose they were intended

Over generations, people have invested and built assets for the benefit of their communities.

Voluntary legislation can ensure that these legacy assets are preserved for the purpose they were intended and not the subject of asset raids. It would empower members to decide what should happen to assets on a solvent dissolution and prohibit capital distribution beyond what members have contributed.

Regulation

Co-operatives facilitate small business competition

Competition policy should understand and support co-operatives, as they are often the mechanism relied on by small businesses to compete with larger operations. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) should formally recognise the benefits that co-operatives bring to markets and how they facilitate the economic participation of small businesses.

ASIC and APRA should have a statutory duty to promote corporate diversity

The history of Australian business shows that co-operatives and mutuals have been the true ‘challenger’ institutions to the largest corporate businesses. By delivering their purpose to provide affordable goods and services to consumers in insurance and banking and commodities markets, co-operatives and mutuals provide real price competition. Regulators should be responsible for ensuring that a wide range of corporate providers are available to consumers: Legislation should introduce a statutory obligation on regulators to measure and promote corporate diversity in financial services and other industry sectors.

Single National Regulator for Co-operatives

Now that Co-operatives National Law has been consistently adopted across all states and territories, a single national regulator for co-operatives should be instituted to ensure national consistency and access to full information about co-operatives. Because of under-resourcing at State registrar offices, co-operative businesses face a range of barriers including slow registration times and a lack of responsiveness from the registry offices. This process should be managed under a principle of no disadvantage – adopting best practice from different jurisdictions and ensuring all types of co-ops are treated equally and fairly.

A new wave of co-operative ventures can be inspired to deal with Australia’s biggest challenges:

Energy co-ops providing low-cost renewable power
Agricultural co-ops ensuring food security and increasing export earnings
High-tech manufacturing co-ops providing skilled work and self sufficiency
Aged care co-ops to provide consumer-centric care

Latest campaigns

Impact: Co-operatives in Northern Rivers

SGS Economics & Planning has broadly estimated the contributions that the Agribusiness subsector makes to the Northern Rivers (NSW) economy on an annual basis.

2022 Queensland and NSW floods crisis

Co-ops and mutuals are well placed to contribute to the immediate emergency response and the longer recovery effort for impacted communities.

Community resilience and recovery

Community resilience and recovery highlights the role of co-operatives in helping communities bounce back from the 2019/20 bushfires.