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What is a co-operative?

Group of smiling people standing behind a tableA co-operative is an autonomous association of persons who voluntarily join together to meet common business, social and cultural needs through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

Co-operatives play an important role in our economy and community. They are diverse organisations and are often regionally based supporting a wide range of industries including retail, agriculture, water distribution, manufacturing, taxi services and arts and crafts.

In an exciting step forward new legislation for co-operatives has been introduced as of 1 September 2010. The Co-operatives Act 2009 and the Co-operatives Regulations 2010 replace the outdated legislation which governed co-operatives that was passed in 1943!

Co-operatives currently registered under the Companies (Co-operative) Act 1943 should continue to comply with that Act until they have transferred their registration to the new legislation.

Newly formed co-operatives can only register under the Co-operatives Act 2009.

Co-operatives National Law

All jurisdictions other than Western Australia and South Australia are proposing to adopt the Co-operatives National Law.  Western Australia and South Australia are proposing to maintain alternative consistent legislation. 

Significant progress was made with bringing in the Co-operatives National Law during the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives.  In May 2012, the initial template legislation was passed by the NSW Parliament.

Western Australia has conducted a detailed analysis of the Co-operatives Act 2009 and Co-operatives Regulations 2010 to identify amendments for consistency with the Co-operatives National Law.  These potential areas of amendment have formed the basis of extensive consultation with our co-operatives sector.

The draft National Regulations are anticipated to be finalised in 2013.

General information