Page 968 - Week 03 - Thursday, 7 April 2022
are currently 11 registered co-operatives and two foreign co-operatives in the ACT. Of course, there may well be other Canberrans who are interested in forming a co-operative.
It is important that we consider what role the government should have in supporting co-operatives, which I think Ms Castley has somewhat gone to, including in assisting where there are any barriers or perceived barriers in doing so. I appreciate that there is, anecdotally, a potentially limited awareness of what co-operatives even are.
Mr Davis’s motion calls on the government to provide accessible information on the establishment of co-operatives and other alternative business models that prioritise workers’ rights and dividends to their workers and communities to deliver social goods.
I am pleased to confirm, again, as Ms Castley drew out, that the government does already provide information through the Access Canberra website about co-operative registration. However, there is the opportunity to make things simpler and easier for people who may be thinking about this form of enterprise. So Access Canberra, in conjunction with the economic development directorate, will review the available information, with a view to developing a fact sheet providing a simple overview of what a co-operative is and its benefits, as well as outlining the process of registration. I do not believe in any way that this would be more bureaucracy and red tape.
It would not be a sitting week without Ms Castley’s favourite topic, the Better Regulation Task Force. Yet again, she knows what is true, but selectively quotes what is happening, even though we have discussed this at length. The discovery report and the work program have been combined, and we look forward to releasing that in due course. It does not mean that there have been months and months of delays. In fact, I think the product will be even more useful than Ms Castley may have otherwise anticipated. I look forward to talking about it in detail again.
I note the other suggestions outlined in the motion, including establishing a dedicated unit to support co-operatives, investigating the appropriateness of financial assistance and seeking to understand what Bologna in Italy is doing. The government will consider these suggestions and their relative utility.
I note that while it is recognised that Italy is a leader in co-operatives, given the number of co-operatives, we need to consider this carefully and perhaps even cautiously, in understanding what the real outcomes have been. I say this because I note there is a prominent study of co-operatives in Italy. It is from 2006, so it was some time ago, but it found that while employment in co-operatives was less volatile, wages were more volatile and that co-ops had 14 per cent lower wages than capitalist enterprises. Again, I do appreciate that this was some time ago, but it was a prominent study of the situation regarding co-operatives in Italy, so I think it is timely that we have a look and see whether there is anything that might be beneficial for us to learn from here.
I thank Mr Davis, through Ms Clay, for bringing forward this motion and for highlighting the roles of co-operatives in our economy.