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Aus Co-operatives A Hidden ‘Ninja’ Economy


Wednesday, 19th November 2014 at 9:36 am
Lina Caneva, Editor
The co-operatives and mutuals sector has been hailed as an undervalued ‘ninja’ economy by advocates as a report is released showing the sector makes the same contribution to the economy as the mining sector – around 6 per cent of the nation’s earnings.

Wednesday, 19th November 2014
at 9:36 am
Lina Caneva, Editor


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Aus Co-operatives A Hidden ‘Ninja’ Economy
Wednesday, 19th November 2014 at 9:36 am

The co-operatives and mutuals sector has been hailed as an undervalued ‘ninja’ economy by advocates as a report is released showing the sector makes the same contribution to the economy as the mining sector – around 6 per cent of the nation’s earnings.

The 2014 National Mutual Economy Report by The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals revealed that Australia’s top 100 member-owned businesses, including the top 10 member owned superannuation funds, had a combined turnover of over $104 billion in the 2012/13 financial year and combined assets of $282 billion.

Heading the Top 100 list, which was launched yesterday at the Council’s Leaders’ Summit in Sydney, were Australia’s farmer-owned co-operatives, including Western Australian grain handler, CBH Group (2.8 billion) and Murray Goulburn (2.39 billion).

Not for Profit health funds HCF (2.13 billion) and HBF (1.27 billion) occupied third and fourth place on the co-operative top 100.

"Co-operatives and member owned businesses are an under-recognised sector of the nation’s economy," BCCM Chair and B20 Member, Dr Andrew Crane said.

"Australia has 1700 member owned businesses providing numerous benefits to their 13 million members. We are pleased to highlight the contributions of co-operatives and mutuals and the ways in which they excel in creating shared value by reinvesting all profits back into the economy through their members.

“Co-operatives and mutuals are also big investors in Australian infrastructure from ports, rail and irrigation systems, to road, housing and manufacturing plants.

“Mutual ownership of infrastructure was recognised in the B20’s Recommendations to the G20 Leaders."

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The top 100 data was drawn directly from a study commissioned by the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals and undertaken by the University of Western Australia called Australia’s Leading Co-operative and Mutual Enterprises 2014.

The Report found that within the top 100, mutual insurers were the biggest part of the sector with $7.6 billion in combined turnover and $10.7 billion in assets, followed by agriculture and then banking and finance.

When ranked by assets held, the mutuals operating in the banking and finance sector topped the list (more than $84 billion).

“If Australia had a ‘ninja’ economy it would be the mutual economy. Member owned businesses excel in their chosen area of the market economy but the sector is largely unseen,” Melina Morrison, CEO of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals said.

“For example 40 per cent of Australia’s grain crop and 35 per cent of the blueberry crop is marketed by co-operatives. Australia’s largest supplier of textbooks is a co-operative and almost a quarter of Australia’s automotive parts are purchased by the co-operative sector. Australia’s largest dairy company is a co-operative.

“The role of co-operatives and mutuals in a sustainable economy is starting to become part of mainstream Government thinking. The Federal Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper recommends the development of more farmer-owned co-operatives to ensure sustainable pricing at the farm gate and more competition in the supply chain,” Morrison said.

A Sector Blueprint was also launched at the Summit, calling on all political parties to sign up to a Mutuals Charter ensuring government policies do not neglect or prejudice the contribution of co-operative enterprise. The Blueprint is endorsed by the country’s leading co-operative and mutual organisations.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and Editor of Pro Bono Australia News since it was founded in 2000.


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