• Troy Sarina


Cooperatives were operating in Australia as early as 1859 and continue to operate across a number of key sectors of the Australian economy including primary produce, financial services and consumer markets. Cooperatives make a significant financial contribution to the Australian economy. In April 2011, the top 100 cooperatives in Australia had an annual turnover of $14.77 billion with 13,085,000 members and 26,000 employees. However, Australia initially struggled with the regulation of cooperatives. Prior to state legislation being passed in the 1920s, cooperators were forced to register their organizations as limited companies, as the regulation of commercial entities was framed in a way that promoted capitalistic enterprise rather than cooperative effort. As a result, Federal and State legislatures have passed laws that have attempted to distinguish cooperatives from more traditional corporate forms. Achieving this goal has been somewhat problematic as government policy toward the regulation of cooperatives has been “ambiguous” at best. Historically, there does seem to have been some general public policy support for the effective regulation of cooperatives. Indeed, parliamentary debates have recorded legislators arguing that, “the great improvement of our [Australia’s] economic condition lies in the development of the cooperative enterprise.” However, Wickremarachchi suggests that this early enthusiasm for cooperatives was short lived due to an underlying public policy agenda that has promoted “for-profit” forms of organizations. This argument seems to support earlier observations made by Lyons who argues that Australian society has had a tendency to emphasize individualism and consumerism rather than the pursuit of cooperative ideas, thereby marginalizing the role of cooperatives in Australia.


Corporate Governance Australian Economy Credit Union Corporate Form External Investor 
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I would like to pass on my sincere appreciation to Suzanne Fawcus, Research Associate, Faculty of Business and Economics, Discipline of Marketing and Management, Macquarie University, who assisted in gathering and editing material used in the crafting of this chapter.


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Further Reading

  1. Cooperative National Law Bill 2012 (NSW).Google Scholar
  2. Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Business and EconomicsMacquarie UniversityMacquarie ParkAustralia

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