Page 777 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 21 March 2017
which have passed the national law there will be automatic recognition of registered cooperatives. This entails that being registered, for example, in New South Wales means automatically being recognised in the ACT.
While the ACT should always reserve the right to enact our own laws based on feedback from our community, when appropriate national laws provide a sensible level of consistency across state and territory borders.
There are a range of options for enacting national laws at the local level. I note that the scrutiny of bills committee provided valuable feedback on these aspects of the bill. The scrutiny committee discussed national arrangements under the bill, including that New South Wales has the power to make national regulations which will have force in the ACT. The committee noted that this delegated legislative power to the New South Wales parliament but that the delegation was subject to appropriate scrutiny by this Legislative Assembly. The bill makes provision for oversight by requiring legislation changes in New South Wales to be tabled and subject to disallowance by this Assembly. This is a sensible, practical way to achieve national consistency and at the same time retain the power to watch out for Canberra’s local requirements.
Cooperatives have some unique features that merit support in our legislation. A cooperative is a democratically run organisation that is owned, controlled and used by its members primarily for the mutual economic, social or cultural benefit of those members. The cooperative model is therefore a natural choice for community-minded enterprises.
Cooperatives are based on a set of principles rather than a set structure. The seven international principles of cooperatives are voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation; and concern for the community. The changes in this bill will assist these people-focused organisations to concentrate on delivering goods and services for the sake of the community.
It is worth considering the role that particular local cooperatives play in our community here. Cooperatives offer a wide variety of options for Canberrans to participate. A full range of hobbies, services and activities are available through cooperatives in the territory. Recreation, food, health care and housing are just some of the things that cooperatives offer for Canberrans.
For example, for cyclists in Canberra there is the Ethical Wheels Cooperative Ltd. The Ethical Wheels Cooperative Ltd describes itself as a social enterprise producing a range of bicycles called grass bicycles. These are made using bamboo frames developed by another social enterprise in Ghana. Ethical Wheels describes its ethos as using purchasing power to leave a smaller footprint on this planet. The organisation is a worker owned and run cooperative.
If you are interested in organic food, the Food Co-op provides a communal hub for the Canberra community, particularly for students. It is an important provision for those who are often on a particularly limited source of income.