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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2629 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

These amendments were required for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Scrutiny of Bills and Subordinate Legislation Committee identified a number of clauses that required amendment including clauses which provided for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to be the point of review for certain decisions of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, instead of the Supreme Court.

Secondly, the Cooperatives Bill included extensive references to the Commonwealth's corporation legislation. Since the tabling of the ACT Bill, there has been extensive revision to the Commonwealth's Corporation legislation, especially with respect to the structure, terminology and layout of the legislation. These changes, in turn, have resulted in the need for considerable amendments to be made to the Cooperatives Bill originally tabled in March 2000.

Thirdly, Parliamentary Counsel has made a number of changes. Most of these changes arise out of improvements to drafting methodology and presentation.

The drafting of the Cooperatives Regulations called for further minor amendments to be undertaken to improve the presentation of the Bill. Being of a relatively minor nature, these amendments do not entail policy changes.

Finally, the Cooperatives Bill was then examined in the light of the Territory's national competition policy commitment. As a result, clause 74 has been omitted and clause 120 has been amended.

The retention of clause 74 would have allowed, in principle, cooperative societies to impose unfair trading constraints on their members. Retention of this clause would place the onus on the ACT Government to demonstrate public interest grounds for retaining it. The ACT Government would need to report to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to seek this exception. However, cooperatives are still able to seek exemptions to the Commonwealth's Trade Practices Act if they wish to adopt particular trading practices with their members. This is the only proposed policy-related amendment.

As I have previously pointed out, the current ACT legislation regulating co-operative societies is obsolete to the cooperative sector, the activities of community and does not meet industry requirements.

Further, all other jurisdictions of Australia, with the exception of Western Australia, have enacted new legislation reforming their cooperatives legislation through a comprehensive set of core consistent provisions. Indeed, this legislation is part of a process whereby each state and territory, by consensus, has moved or is moving towards consistent cooperative legislation.

These core provisions relate to the establishment, operation and regulation of cooperative societies as mutual organisations controlled democratically by their members.

The core consistent legislation incorporates provisions which allows cooperatives to have wider corporate powers, and facilitates fund raising by cooperatives including cross-border fundraising and trading. It improves the process of winding-up, and enhances the provisions relating to directors' duties and facilitates and regulates takeovers, mergers, transfers of engagements, arrangements and reconstructions.

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