The Co-operatives (Adoption of National Laws) Bill 2012 and the Co-operatives National Law were introduced into state parliament on 4 April, 2012 by New South Wales Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts.
The new national law scheme represents a significant reform for this important sector especially since 2012 is the UN’s International Year of Co-operatives.
The Co-operatives National Law, when passed by each other State and Territory, will reduce red tape and associated business costs for co-operatives through enabling uniformity of regulation and administration.
Larger co-operatives wishing to carry on business across a State or Territory border will be able to do so without the costly process of registering in each jurisdiction.
Smaller co-operatives will benefit from the introduction of simplified financial reporting to members and removing the obligation to lodge publicly available accounts.
The Co-operatives National Law is a template model of legislation drafted to continue the important principles of co-operation developed by the International Co-operative Alliance and to implement modern principles of corporate governance and accountability similar to requirements for other corporate entities.
By aligning co-operatives laws on corporate governance and accountability more closely with laws regarding companies, it is expected that co-operatives will be able to compete on a level playing field with these entities.
NSW is the lead jurisdiction for this national project. Once the law is passed by the NSW Parliament, other States and Territories will apply the same laws, or alternative, consistent laws, in their own jurisdictions.
Debate on the Bill has been deferred until the next sittings of Parliament.
The full text of the Co-operatives (Adoption of National Laws) Bill 2012 and explanatory material is now available on the NSW Parliamentary Counsel’s website www.legislation.nsw.gov.au