What is a co-operative?
A 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 The Co-operatives Act 2009 and the Co-operatives Regulations 2010 replace the outdated legislation which governed co-operatives that was passed in 1943!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
New Co-operatives National Law
It is proposed that a new Co-operatives National Law will be adopted by every jurisdiction (except Western Australia which will maintain alternative consistent legislation) during 2012, to coincide with the United Nations’ International Year of Co‑operatives.
A key change to laws affecting co-operatives will be the introduction of simplified financial reporting requirements for small co-operatives. NSW Fair Trading is coordinating public comment on this important issue on behalf of states and territories by publishing a discussion paper on Financial Reporting by Small Co-operatives. Comment is invited from interested persons and stakeholders.
Material received during the public comment period will be used in drafting proposed national regulations. Once the national regulations are drafted they will also be released for public comment.
The discussion paper is available here in the Co-operatives and Associations section. Submissions close on 7 December 2011.