The Global History of Co-operative Business

21 June 2018

6 Macquarie Street
Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia

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NSW Deputy Premier The Hon. John Barilaro MP launched The Global History of Co-operative Business last night, offering praise and support for co-operatives from the NSW National Party

NSW Deputy Premier The Hon. John Barilaro MP launched The Global History of Co-operative Business, by Professor Greg Patmore and Dr Nikola Balnave, at NSW Parliament House, on Thursday, June 22. The launch was sponsored by the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), Australia’s only peak body to represent all member-owned businesses across all industries.

“The role of co-operatives in NSW life, particularly rural and regional life cannot be overstated,” said Mr Barilaro at the book launch. “Co-operatives developed in the 1800s but remain relevant in the vastly changed globalised economy today. The principle of one vote per member is a great example of democracy in action, ensuring that the voices of all members are heard.

“NSW Co-operatives took off with the dairy co-ops in Kiama in 1883 and Bombala in 1894 and spread, not only across the state but into other areas such as wheat, seafood, meat, cotton and wool. The co-operative concept has spread well and truly beyond agriculture to other areas, including retail, real estate, the arts, wholesale trade, taxi co-ops and of course, finance with the rise of Credit Unions.

“In the regions that I and my colleagues represent, co-ops are an important part of not only the business of those regions, but the wider community – whether it’s the workers directly employed by the co-op, or the people picking up their evening meal from the Fisherman’s co-op, perhaps playing a game or enjoying a meal at their local co-op run bowling, RSL or golf club and catching a cab home afterwards. To enthusiasts brought together in a co-op by their passion, be it restoring our state’s railway heritage or supporting our museums and history, through to artists co-ops and the provision of child-care kindergarten services, co-ops are an indispensable part of our communities.

“I’m proud that the Country Party, the predecessor of today’s National Party, was a supporter of co-operatives across rural and regional NSW, as outlined in Professor Patmore and Doctor Balnave’s book – it’s good to see that aspect of our long history get a little recognition.

“The National Party I lead will continue to support co-operatives, as they in turn support their members and the wider community. I’d like to thank Professor Patmore and Doctor Balnave for their work. This book documents a phenomenon that’s long been a part of Australian rural and regional life – as well as having an impact on the cities as well.”
The book authors, Professor Greg Patmore and Dr Nikki Balnave, spoke at the launch.

“This book provides an Australian perspective on the history of a significant movement that has benefited billions of individuals and still helps people meet contemporary issues that traditional markets fail to meet,” said Professor Patmore. “The BCCM plays an important role in Australia in raising awareness of the co-operative model.”

“It was wonderful to see so many co-operators in the same room, together celebrating the history of the movement and looking with optimism to the future. BCCM organised a terrific launch and as always we appreciate their interest in, and support for, our co-op research,” said Doctor Balnave.

As economists and policy writers increasingly reexamine the powerful co-operative business model, this new work documents the significant contribution co-operatives have made to the economic and social development of communities all over the world, and why co-operatives remain important today.=

“This book is an incredible resource for anyone interested in co-operatives and what makes them such a successful business model,” said BCCM CEO Melina Morrison. “We are indebted to Professor Patmore and Dr Balnave for their accurate depiction of the co-operative business model and its historical roots of self-help and entrepreneurship. The BCCM is delighted to see the National Party’s historically important role in supporting co-operatives set up in NSW now recorded for posterity.”

There are more than 2000 Australian co-operative and mutual enterprises. In 2017, they contributed 8.3 per cent of the nation’s GDP.  And while eight in 10 Australians are members of one, only three in 10 know they are.

About the authors

Greg Patmore is Emeritus Professor of Business and Labour History and the Chair of the Co-operatives Research Group at the University of Sydney, Australia. He is a member of the International Co-operative Alliance (Geneva) Global 300 Project.

Nikola Balnave is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Marketing and Management and a member of the Centre for Workforce Futures at Macquarie University, Australia. Nikki has been the President of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History since 2009. She has also been an executive member of the Academic Association of Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools in many capacities since its inception in 2009.

About the book

This book provides an international perspective on the development of co-operatives since the mid-nineteenth century, exploring the economic, political, and social factors that explain their varying fortunes and transformation into different forms.

This book is an invaluable resource for academics, practitioners and policy makers:

  • It looks at what co-operatives are and how they have changed
  • The developments and persecutions of the co-operative movement
  • How co-operatives can drive development and self-sufficiency in non-industrialised areas

Purchase The Global History of Co-operative Business online


21 June 2018


NSW Parliament House
6 Macquarie Street
Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia




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