Page 972 - Week 03 - Thursday, 7 April 2022

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The Assembly may be interested in a study published last year by Belgian researcher Adrien Billiet summarising evidence amassed over decades of research that indicates that cooperatives are highly embedded in their local community both by principle and by design. This means they have a long-term orientation, facilitate social innovation and have better resilience during crises.

Cooperatives’ social innovation was particularly on display during the pandemic. While chain stores struggled with supply lines, Canberra’s very own food cooperative, with its diversified and local supplier network, was able to keep providing members with the staples required during lockdown, adopting a home delivery and home ordering system to keep shoppers and volunteers safe. The Food Co-op has long combined support for the arts with social connection and health through their regular events, often specifically targeted at new Canberrans like international students, to help build community relationships whilst sharing cooking skills. The ACT Greens are proud to support local cooperatives, and I sincerely hope this motion is an important step in the government promoting and assisting the growth of these important enterprises here in Canberra.

MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (5.16), in reply: I will just make a few remarks in closing. I do not expect to use my full 10 minutes. I always find it interesting in here when we have our business credentials challenged. I really should not engage with that, but I am going to. I have been a company director. I have run estates. I have been a lawyer. I have operated lots of different businesses in lots of different fields. I have been an artist. I have worked in government, and I have worked outside of government. Actually, that is not particularly unique; that is pretty common. I think most of the Greens here have done quite a lot of different things, but I certainly do not profess to be an expert in business. I think business is really interesting because it is so varied. There is so much to learn, and you never finish learning. I think it is quite interesting that anybody here would think that they are an expert in business and that nobody needs any help.

I usually take a fairly Greens approach, and I think Mr Davis has taken a very Greens approach in developing this motion. I think he has done exactly what any of us Greens would do. He has not said, “I’m an expert and I think there is nothing more to learn here.” He has gone out and listened to what people are telling him. He has done a bit of deep research, he has done a bit of deep thinking, and he has gone back and done a bit more listening. What he has heard from the co-ops that exist here; from people who have recently established co-ops, like Scotty Foster; from the people who have been working in co-ops for quite a long time; and from the people who would quite like to establish co-ops, is that it is actually quite difficult to do it.

Co-ops are a little different from other business structures. There is some information on the website, and that is great. We definitely do not need any more barriers for co-ops. That is why this motion is not introducing barriers; it is just introducing support for people who would like to access it. We heard that people need support, particularly with information to navigate how to incorporate a co-opposition. It is actually quite different and unique. I have incorporated quite a lot of different businesses and legal structures—partnerships and directorships and quite a lot of things—but incorporating a co-op is a different way of doing business and it is good

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