Co-operative and Mutual Enterprise in Australia

There are around 1,600 businesses in Australia that are registered as co-operative or mutual enterprises. In 2012 it was estimated that these businesses had an estimated 13.5 million members. The combined assets of the financial mutual enterprises was around $83 billion in 2012, and the combined revenue of the 10 largest agricultural co-operatives was around $7 billion.

Australia's first co-operative enterprise was established in 1859 and today around 8 in every 10 Australians are members of a co-operative or mutual enterprise. There are over 7 million members of motoring associations across Australia, and 4.5 million people are customers of financial mutuals and customer-owned banks. In the insurance industry mutual insurance companies and friendly societies provide risk management products for over 2.3 million Australians.

Within Australia the Top 100 Co-operative enterprises control a combined turnover of around $17 billion and provide employment and economic benefits to many thousands of people across both regional and rural Australia. In WA there are around 70 Co-operatives working across a wide range of industries including fishing, farming, retailing and services sectors. Australia's top 10 largest CMEs by turnover for FY 2012/13 were:

  • Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd (WA)
  • Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co Ltd (Vic)
  • The Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Ltd (HCF) (NSW)
  • HBF Health (WA)
  • Capricorn Society Ltd (WA)
  • Australian Unity (Vic)
  • Credit Union Australia (QLD)
  • Namoi Cotton Co-operative Ltd (NSW)
  • RAC WA (WA)
  • RACQ (QLD)

A full report on the largest CMEs in Australia was prepared by CERU for the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM). This can be found below:

Australia's Leading Co-operative and Mutual Enterprises 2014 - Tim Mazzarol, Elena Mamouni Limnios, Geoffrey N. Soutar and Johannes Kresling (2014), CEMI Discussion Paper 1403.