Page 555 - Week 02 - Thursday, 16 February 2017

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The Cooperatives Act 2002 does not differentiate between small cooperatives and large cooperatives. The bill will simplify financial reporting for small cooperatives. One of the key reforms of the cooperatives national law was to reduce the reporting and financial obligations for small cooperatives. The cooperatives national law requires small cooperatives to lodge an annual return, but they will not have to lodge publicly available accounts with the registrar. Additionally, small cooperatives will not have to appoint an auditor or have their accounts audited or reviewed unless directed to do so by the registrar. These reduced reporting requirements are expected to deliver significant cost savings without any significant risks to the viability of cooperatives or to the public.

Adoption of the cooperatives national law will align director duties and the duties of other officers with duties contained in the Corporations Act 2001, including provisions in relation to the use of position, use of information and good faith. There are also provisions relevant to professionals who provide services to a cooperative, for example, auditors, receivers and liquidators.

Cooperatives registered under the Cooperatives Act 2002 are taken to be registered under this bill. Cooperatives will be able to continue to operate under their existing rules and will not need to modify their rules.

The bill will retain existing ACT mechanisms that are already used under the Cooperatives Act 2002 when it adopts the cooperatives national law, such as the registrar for cooperatives, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the ACT Supreme Court. Applications can continue to be made to the ACAT in relation to reviewable decisions. Among other functions, the ACT Supreme Court is able to make decisions in relation to the rights and liabilities of cooperative members, the appointment of members and the control of property of a cooperative.

The benefits of cooperatives are numerous. Cooperatives empower people through their democratic, member-owned and member-serving business model. This bill will remove unfair burdens on small cooperatives and facilitate cooperatives operating across borders.

I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Wall) adjourned to the next sitting.

Annual and financial reports 2015-16

Reference to standing committees

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Urban Renewal) (10.29): I move:

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