Page 778 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 21 March 2017

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There is a cooperative option for health care in Canberra. The National Health Co-op is an organisation which is particularly close to my heart. In 2006 it formed as the West Belconnen Health Co-operative Ltd in response to community concerns about a lack of general practitioners in west Belconnen. The National Health Co-op is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative that provides affordable medical and healthcare services to the increasing number of communities where it operates, now not only in my home electorate but beyond.

Housing is another example of a basic service that is supplied cooperatively in the territory. The Canberra Student Housing Co-operative organised in 2009. The impetus for the cooperative was concern over housing shortages for students. It offers housing for students who want to participate in member-managed, communal style living.

What all of these diverse cooperatives have in common is that they were a community response to an interest. The interest could be a craft, a hobby or an essential service that members of the community want to provide together. Today’s legislation represents an improvement to the options for how people can organise around their needs and their interests. Canberra is already a home to innovative corporations, clubs, partnerships and a full range of business and community associations. Cooperatives have served, and will continue to serve, an important role in the Canberra economy.

Cooperatives are one of the many creative forms of organisation that Canberrans can use to achieve their goals and serve their needs. They are a sound community-centred response to needs and interests. The bill we are considering today will assist these wonderful community responses to continue to be made. I look forward to seeing the continuation of these Canberra icons and the stories that new cooperatives will be able to tell. I commend this bill to the Assembly.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (11.59): I rise today to also talk strongly in favour of the cooperative movement. It was very pleasant to listen to Mr Ramsay recounting so many cooperatives in Canberra, some of which, of course, I am particularly involved in, and the Food Co-op comes to mind. Cooperatives have been a very important part of Australia’s history. If you think about it, most of our agricultural development has ended up with the sales arms at least becoming cooperatives. I lived for a long time on the north coast and, of course, Norco was the big cooperative there. But it is not just in the dairy industries. It has been in wool, with the single desk, which was about cooperatives. Wheat and grains have all been run by cooperatives. To an extent they still are, although, unfortunately, I suspect not quite as much as they were.

The remaining big ones are CBH, the WA grain handler; Murray Goulburn Co-operative, which is dairy; Norco, as I mentioned, on the north coast, which is not just dairy anymore but meat as well; and, of course, the ricegrowers co-op which produces SunRice. That has been a very strong history in Australia’s agricultural development.

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