24 March 2017
Media Release - #2017021, 2017

Turnbull Government announces consultation on member-owned firm legislation and regulation

The Turnbull Government is today initiating a consultation on reforms to support cooperatives, mutuals and member-owned firms in Australia so they can invest, grow and employ more Australians.

Cooperatives, mutuals and member-owned firms contribute around 7 per cent of GDP in Australia and the Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring these enterprises are competitive and can access the capital they need to grow, create jobs and best serve their members.

Mr Greg Hammond OAM will be appointed as an independent facilitator to conduct consultations on the recommendations of the Senate Economic References Committee report Cooperative, Mutual and Member-owned Firms and assist in developing a Government response to deliver meaningful reforms for the sector.

The Senate inquiry investigated the importance and performance of cooperative, mutual and member-owned firms in the Australian economy, assessing barriers to innovation and growth and the impact of current regulation.

The Government recognises the importance of these organisations for many sectors of the Australian economy. There are over 2,000 cooperative and mutual businesses in Australia representing 29 million active memberships. It is estimated that 8 in 10 Australians are members of at least one cooperative or mutual organisation. In the banking sector alone, customer owned banking controls about 10 per cent of the home loan market.

As such it is critical that Australia’s regulatory and legislative framework keeps up and helps this sector continue to grow and provide competition in sectors such as banking and insurance. A stronger cooperatives and mutuals sector will provide Australian consumers with better choices and more cost effective options.

Mr Hammond will make recommendations to the Government on whether there should be regulatory or legislative changes to improve Commonwealth-regulated cooperative and mutual enterprises’ access to capital and whether ‘mutual enterprise’ should be explicitly defined in the Corporations Act 2001. Mr Hammond is expected to report to Government by 14 July 2017. Mr Hammond has extensive legal experience, specialising in all aspects of the governance, supervision and regulation of Australia’s finance system. Mr Hammond acts as consultant and advisor to participants in the banking and finance sector and charity and not-for-profit organisations.

Interested parties may send submissions to coopsandmutualreview@treasury.gov.au.


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