Labor Promises Co-ops Level Playing Field
21 June 2016 at 11:49 am
Labor has committed to levelling the playing field for member-owned cooperatives and mutuals if elected, with the announcement welcomed by the peak body for the sector.
On Tuesday shadow treasurer Chris Bowen and Senator Chris Ketter said a Labor government would review existing legislation and regulations affecting co-ops and mutuals.
“In March, a Labor chaired Senate Economics References Committee inquiry found that legislation and regulations at both the state and federal level could be improved to better support the growth of co-operatives,” Bowen and Ketter said in a joint statement.
“The committee made 17 recommendations that would improve co-operatives access to capital and help to make them more competitive with shareholder owned corporations in serving their communities across Australia.
“Millions of Australians are already members of co-operatives and mutuals, driving innovation and competition in the economy, and delivering many of our healthcare, agriculture and financial services.”
They said Labor would work also with the states and territories to review their individual legislation.
The commitment was welcomed by the Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals (BCCM).
“We’re thrilled to see Labor’s commitment in this statement… it’s the logical next step for the Labor Party, we believe, because they have traditionally been the party of putting people first, and this [co-ops] is a people-before-profit business model,” BCCM CEO Melina Morrison told Pro Bono Australia News.
Earlier this month, the peak body set out its federal election policy, asking all candidates and parties to support the level playing field for co-ops and mutuals.
“We don’t want a hand out, we just want equal treatment before the law and in regulation in terms of the business models,” Morrison said.
“Currently what is happening is that either, by design or by omission, they are often left out of government business advice… that’s paid for by the taxpayer.
“There’s just no reason they should be left off the agenda because there’s such low awareness. So we’re asking all parties to agree… that cooperatives and mutuals are an important part of the economy and they deserve to be treated on a level playing field.”