Release the regulatory handbrake on co-operatives and mutuals to realise the true value of employee ownership

11 May 2021

The Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals today welcomed the Federal Government’s budget and its commitment to Australia’s economic recovery.

CEO of BCCM, Melina Morrison said the Government’s commitment to advancing employee ownership was positive news for co-operatives and mutuals but urged the government to continue to work with the sector on deregulation and business growth.

“The co-operative and mutual sector contributes more than $34 billion to the Australian economy each year and includes 28 million members across Australia. Australians are turning to cooperatives and mutuals for their food and services and the sector needs to be able to grow to match demand,” Morrison said.

“Currently, the sector is hamstrung by outdated regulation and duplication across state and commonwealth governments. We have been working closely with the Federal Government to remove these duplications and will continue to do so.

“With Government support, we can release the handbrake that impedes the CME sector and engender an environment that gives thousands of Australians the opportunity to thrive, encouraging self-reliance and fostering prosperity for end-to-end supply chains and whole communities rather than individual people and businesses.

Morrison welcomed the Government’s plans to invest in regulatory reforms, education and training in the aged care sector and asserted the significant potential of the co-op and mutual model has to transform the culture and governance of the sector.

“Our research demonstrates that employee ownership leads to significantly higher employee and consumer engagement, leading to higher quality service.

“To truly achieve diversity in economic participation and lay the foundations for community wealth building, we need to unleash the entrepreneurial instincts of Australians and put the policies in place that allow them to help themselves.

“There is debate over who the winners and losers are in every budget. This is not about putting big business ahead of small business or vice versa. From the perspective of co-operatives and mutuals, it is about putting measures in place to increase the beneficiaries of every dollar the government has invested. We want to enable small and medium sized businesses to collaborate, remove roadblocks and ensure that they can expand to become big business without diluting their ownership stake or their control.

“Until we fix the regulatory hurdles in front of co-ops and mutuals their ability to fully engage in the economy for their members will be hampered.”

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