The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals today recognised the three-year anniversary of the Commonwealth Government’s announcement that they would accept all eleven recommendations of the Hammond inquiry into Reforms for Cooperatives, Mutuals and Member-owned Firms.

BCCM CEO, Melina Morrison said prior to the Government’s action, mutuals were not defined in the Corporations Act and they had legislative restrictions that made it difficult to raise capital without changing their corporate structure.

“With the support of the Commonwealth, the legislation was conceived by BCCM to enable existing mutuals to grow and innovate in sectors as varied as banking, health, agriculture and motoring,” Morrison said.

“The changes put in place by the Commonwealth have ensured that cooperatives and mutuals are able to operate on a level playing field with the publicly listed companies. No longer do mutuals have to change their corporate structure, they can stay true to their member-led purpose.

“BCCM worked closely with Prime Minister Morrison in his role as Treasurer and have continued to work with his successor, Treasurer Frydenberg and Assistant Treasurer Sukkar.

“The legislative changes passed in April 2019 and the number of mutuals now able to raise capital is a great example of industry advocacy in action – members of BCCM working together to create change that benefits all. At this time of immense need it is more important than ever that mutuals have the fullest range of capital options to respond to the crisis on behalf of the Australian community.

Morrison said that in 2020 co-operatives and mutuals continued to demonstrate the resilience of their business model and the benefits it provides to members and the broader Australian community, even during periods of economic challenge.

“Many of Australia’s great cooperatives and mutuals were formed following economic and social adversity. We will continue to advocate to government at all levels the benefits of our industry and the importance of allowing our members to operate with the same regulatory and legislative advantages as other businesses,” Morrison said.

“More than 80 per cent of Australians are members of cooperatives and mutuals. As we plan for the next period of economic growth, cooperatives and mutuals will ensure that Australia’s economic prosperity is on the back of Australian owned products and services, with the benefits flowing to communities across Australia.”

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