Last Thursday the Senate Economics Reference Committee handed down its report on co-operative, mutual and member owned firms. The committee made 17 recommendations aimed at further developing a sector of the Australian economy whose importance is too often overlooked. Key takeaways from the report are:
– Considering how the raising of external capital for co-operative and mutual enterprises can be done more efficiently than it currently is;
– Exploring how education regarding co-operatives and mutual sector at the secondary, tertiary and professional levels can be improved, particularly that professional accreditation bodies require their members to demonstrate knowledge of the co-operatives and mutual structure before being licenced to practice;
– That any changes made by the International Accounting Standards Board in regards to co-operative share capital that would amend AASB 132 be acted upon quickly by the Commonwealth Government;
– That the co-operatives and mutuals sector be better represented in government policy discussions, particularly where community based initiatives are being considered; and
– That the Commonwealth Government creates a national collection of statistics and data to map out the co-operative and mutual sector
Terms such as ‘co-operative’ and ‘member owned’ can have political connotations and that has affected how some have interpreted this area in the past. Hopefully, the Senate report sees the start of the realisation of the value that co-operative and mutual sector provide to the Australian economy, there is still much more work to be done but the first steps have been taken.
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