09 June 2022
The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) has declared today’s meeting to discuss the formation of the first Parliamentary Friends Group for co-ops and mutuals in the New South Wales Parliament a milestone in awareness of this powerful and sustainable business model.
The group, comprising MPs from all parties, will be established to represent the 750 NSW based co-ops and mutuals in the 57th Parliament of NSW.
“This group is being formed to increase awareness of a sector that delivers so much benefit to our State,” said BCCM CEO, Melina Morrison said. “It will provide a forum for MPs to meet and interact with mutual and co-operative businesses on matters relating to levelling the playing field for our sector.”
The group will be co-Chaired by Mr Gurmesh Singh MP, the Nationals member for Coffs Harbour and the Hon Mick Veitch, Shadow Minister for Regional NSW, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Shadow Minister for Western NSW.
Mr Singh said: “Having formed a highly successful co-operative before coming into parliament, I understand why co-operatives and mutuals are important to our economy. For some businesses, especially in agriculture, a co-operative is the best business model and offers individual members opportunities they would not get with any other business model.”
“I’m proud of this initiative, which I know will have great bi-partisan support and I thank the BCCM for their work and support of the co-op and mutuals sector,” Mr Singh said.
Mr Veitch said: “Co-ops were the backbone of rural and regional NSW, and they have a crucial role to play moving forwards. The Friendship Group will help promote the co-operative approach and raise awareness amongst decision makers in Parliament.”
Co-ops and mutuals are active in all parts of the NSW economy, collectively contributing more than $12.8 billion to the State’s economy, and directly employing more than 22,000 workers. Co-ops and mutuals have been at the front line of flood recovery and resilience planning as NSW has battled a string of natural disasters and supply chain issues thrown up by the war in Ukraine, and the pandemic.
Headquartered locally and reinvesting 100% of surplus funds into the State economy, co-ops and mutuals are focused only on serving members, not on maximising profits for shareholders.
“They look after 8 in 10 NSW citizens who are their members, and yet they are disadvantaged, held back and hindered by the regulatory environment,” said Ms Morrison. “It takes weeks if not months to get a co-op registered, for example.”
At the launch of the group today, Ms Morrison said: “Effective State based advocacy starts with making friends.”
“We look forward to inviting members to attend the first Parliamentary Friendship Group events of the New South Wales 57th Parliament.”
The BCCM is the national peak body for the co-operatives and mutuals sector.
Read more about the contribution of NSW domiciled co-ops and mutuals.
View the combined impact of the co-operative and mutual sector in Northern NSW (infographic produced by the BCCM produced for the Northern Rivers Co-operatives Alliance).