Page 973 - Week 03 - Thursday, 7 April 2022

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to have a bit of assistance, including, possibly, human assistance in that process—particularly if English is not your first language, or if you just find the nature of it a bit difficult to navigate, and that is pretty common.

We have also heard that co-ops have unique challenges in raising capital. I have been in the situation of raising capital for business enterprises and for social enterprises. It is really fun. It is not straightforward, and for co-ops there are a lot of unique challenges. When a bank looks at the structure of a co-op it sees that it is not the same as a for-profit company and it is not the same as other business models. For co-ops it is a lot harder to attract investment and to attract loans. We have been told by people who really are the experts in co-ops that that needs a bit of assistance.

Mr Davis has listened, and he has put together some of the assistance that people have said that they would like. They want better information than a few web links; they want a business unit that actually understands co-ops and can help provide some advice to people on how to incorporate those and put them together. He has also realised that we need to learn more about co-ops. I think learning is really good, so we are going to learn from the co-ops that we have here. But we have also realised that there is another place in the world that is doing co-ops quite well. They have taken off; they have become one of the most common business structures there. It would be great to have a little look at what they are doing. Learning is a really useful way to develop new public policy. Mr Davis has asked for that work to be done and then for the report to come back to the Assembly. It is a good way to develop policy.

Co-ops are very ordinary in one sense. Eight in 10 Australians are members of a co-op, so most of us have contact with a co-op at some stage. But they are also unique in a lot of ways. They do not have the same type of business charter as a for-profit company. They are not established for profit. They do not have a boss at the top and everybody else working for them underneath. They are based on a different structure. They are based on the fact that everybody is equal and that we have to achieve social and environmental goals, as well as achieving our product, service or whatever it is that our co-op does. I think that is an absolutely sensational way to set out to develop your business life and to deliver a service that Canberra needs. I cannot think of any better way to form your company than to think, “Let’s do it like that; let’s do it as a co-op.”

We are experiencing a lot of the problems that have been created by the old way of doing business. We understand that we are on a finite planet, and we are living as if we had infinite resources. That has to stop. A lot of the social problems are experienced with a greater divide in equality—as there are more rich and more poor people and as we get more bosses and more workers. It is not helpful. It is not a good long-term way to build a cohesive society and a healthy, sustainable planet.

I am glad that Mr Davis has brought forward this motion about co-ops. On one level it is a very simple motion based on very simple ways of developing policy. I am really excited to see what happens if we pass this motion today. I am excited to see what we hear back when we have done all this work to find out how we can help more Canberrans establish co-ops if they want to. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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