Australia’s BCCM stresses power of co-operation against Covid-19

The apex body has been in talks with ministers to discuss ways to reduce the impact of the virus

Australian’s Business Council for Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) has been lobbying ministers as the Covid-19 crisis escalates, and has stressed the value of mutualism in protecting communities.

In a statement on its website, the national apex body for the sector said: “We’re making sure that the interests of co-operatives and mutuals continue to be represented in a challenging business landscape.

“We’ve been hearing many stories about how businesses are supporting communities to cope during these difficult times. Of course, helping our members is business as usual for co-ops and mutuals.”

BCCM added that the resilience of the co-op model will be vital to helping communities – many still suffering the effects of the bushfire disaster – get through the pandemic. “Our business models have real advantages compared to corporates: we’re more adaptable, faster to move and able to cut operating costs more easily because we’re not having to answer to distant shareholders.”

Related: How Australia’s co-ops met the bushfires challenge

It said co-ops and mutuals in Australia are

  • proactively managing emerging supply chain risks
  • working hard to re-activate markets and keep cash flowing to member businesses
  • calling on their members to support the communities being impacted by coronavirus.

BCCM says it has attended briefings by senior cabinet ministers, who are looking for business help to reduce panic surrounding the pandemic, and joined an industry roundtable on the supply chain impacts of coronavirus, hosted by Karen Andrews (minister for industry, science and technology).

At the meeting it stressed that BCCM members come from across the economy, so the impacts on co-ops and mutuals are not uniform.

It added: “We highlighted potential impacts on supply chain and export-market-exposed members. 

“We noted that 146,000 SMEs are supported by the sector through co-op, so problems facing co-ops create much wider impacts.”

BCCM told members the threat to business is not immediate, but looming.

Click here for more on the co-op response to the global Covid-19 crisis