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Mutual Economy Contributing More to Australia’s GDP

5 December 2017 at 4:01 pm
Lina Caneva
A new report has revealed the increasing contribution of co-op and mutual enterprises (CMEs) to the national economy.

Lina Caneva | 5 December 2017 at 4:01 pm


Mutual Economy Contributing More to Australia’s GDP
5 December 2017 at 4:01 pm

A new report has revealed the increasing contribution of co-op and mutual enterprises (CMEs) to the national economy.

According to the National Mutual Economy Report 2017 (NME 2017), the total value of the goods produced and services provided by CMEs in 2015/2016 was equal to 8.3 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The report found that the contribution made by CMEs to the economy was larger than the construction, mining, manufacturing or agriculture sectors.

The report research was published by the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) with the University of Western Australia.

“In [the financial year] 2015/2016, there were at least 2,135 active CMEs generating a total value add of $140 billion and holding assets worth $713.6 billion on behalf of their 29 million members,” the report said.

BCCM CEO Melina Morrison said CMEs were a tried and tested model for communities that felt the current economic system was not meeting their needs.

“CMEs are owned by their members, not by investors. This means the needs of members are put first, with a focus on delivering long-term benefits to members rather than short-term profits for investors,” Morrison said.

“Member control also means profits stay within the local community, rather than leaking out or fleeing offshore. The report referenced findings that 76 cents in every dollar spent with a CME stays in the local community, helping contribute to the wealth and quality of life of people who use its products or services.”

Morrison said that amid new revelations of tax evasion by companies, the strength of the CME sector was vital to securing Australian living standards.

“Strengthening the sector may prove to be the best way for the major parties to protect Australian interests,” Morrison said.

“Despite the contribution of CMEs to the Australian economy, the sector remains relatively unknown and misunderstood. While 85 per cent of Australian adults are members of at least one CME, a recent BCCM poll found that only 12 per cent know they are a member.”

The report showed that the combined annual turnover for the top 100 Australian CMEs (excluding the member owned superannuation funds) for 2015/16 was approximately $29.9 billion. The turnover of the Top 100 CMEs grew by an average of 6.6 per cent annually in the last five years.

The top 100 CMEs held combined assets of more than $152.9 billion at the end of 2015/16. The value of assets grew by 10.5 per cent during each of the last five years.

Financial performance of Australia's largest CMEs

The report showed that locally owned and regionally focused agricultural CMEs contribute $8.6 billion to the Australian economy every year, providing more than 13,000 farmers and fishers with the support they need to operate locally and sell internationally.

“The co-operative support for regional economies goes beyond agriculture, with member-owned banking institutions, energy co-operatives, and many more bringing sustainable development to regional Australia,” the report sid.

Watch the 2017 National Mutual Economy Report video.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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