Senate recommends level playing field for co-ops and mutuals

16 March 2016

Co-operative leaders join with Dr John Hewson and Senators Chris Ketter, Bridget McKenzie, Nick Xenophon to celebrate the day of the inquiry hand-down.

On 17 March, the Senate’s Economics References Committee handed-down their report into their examination into the role, importance, and overall performance of co-operative, mutual and member-owned firms, which has received strong industry endorsement as a roadmap to begin to level the playing field for the sector.

The committee have given 17 wide ranging recommendations highlighting the various barriers to innovation, growth and free competition faced by the sector and provided Federal government a complete reform agenda to address the barriers.

Welcoming the report, Melina Morrison, CEO of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), stated the “…report’s recommendations will help take the shackles off the sector and allow it to step up and fulfill its potential in both the economy and Australian communities.”

“It is an important first step in recognising how co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs) increase competition and diversity in markets and contribute to a stable and resilient economy.”

Pointing to the recommendation related to the proposed examination to amend the Corporations Act to allow greater flexibility in the way mutuals can raise capital, Ms Morrison said it gives the sector the “…opportunity to achieve parity for the sector with other types of businesses and potentially unlock billions of dollars of investment.”

Andrew Crane, BCCM Chair and CEO of Australia’s largest CME, CBH Group said the report recognised the contribution of co-operatives and mutuals economy while welcoming the bipartisan support which the report received, noting the BCCM will now engage with all political parties to see the recommendations implemented in full.

Read the press release.
Read the Senate Economics References Committee’s report.
Read the 17 recommendations in full.
Read the Quick Reference Recommendation Report Card.
Read the story in The Australian.
Read press releases from BCCM members, Australian Unity, Bank AustraliaCOBA, and Co-operatives WA.

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