A uniform set of national laws for co-operatives is being progressively introduced by the States and Territories. This will be achieved by each State and Territory either adopting the template Co-operatives National Law (CNL) or passing alternative legislation consistent with the CNL, in line with their jurisdiction’s Government and Parliamentary processes.
The CNL will reduce red tape and associated business costs for co-operatives on a number of levels. 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 with the Registrar of Co-operatives 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 CNL will continue the distinguishing co-operative principles developed by the International Co-operative Alliance and implement modern principles of corporate governance similar to requirements for other corporate entities. This will enable co-operatives to compete on a more ‘level playing field’ with these entities.
NSW is the lead jurisdiction for this national project. In May 2012 the NSW Parliament passed the Co-operatives (Adoption of National Law) Act 2012. This Act has the template CNL appended to it and refers to the template Co-operatives National Regulations (CNR). Section 4 of the Act applies the template legislation (CNL, CNR) in NSW from the date of commencement of the Act on 3 March 2014.
The NSW CNL laws consist of 4 pieces of legislation:
For further information about the NSW CNL laws, refer to the Co-operatives legislation page.
The new co-operatives laws in the other States and Territories using the CNL will also comprise 4 pieces of legislation, being their enabling Act, the CNL, the CNR and their Local Regulations.
On this page:
The Australian Uniform Co-operative Laws Agreement (AUCLA) provides for the development of uniform laws and administration to regulate co-operatives. Recognising that a State or Territory Parliament may have a preference for not using uniform legislation, the AUCLA also provides for a jurisdiction to use alternative legislation consistent with the uniform template law.
Each State or Territory will pass a template law or an alternative consistent law, as a law of its own jurisdiction.
Administration of the uniform laws will continue to be the responsibility of each State and Territory, but with a commitment to achieve uniform administrative processes and policies.
The AUCLA sets out a number of functions to be carried out by the Ministerial Council, which is constituted by the Ministers responsible for consumer protection and co-operatives legislation in each of the States and Territories. The Ministerial Council is now known as the COAG Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs (CAF).
Under the terms of the AUCLA, States and Territories developed the Co-operatives National Law (CNL) as the new principal uniform legislation to regulate co-operatives. NSW, as the host jurisdiction, passed its application legislation, the Co-operatives (Adoption of National Law) Act in May 2012 and the CNL is an appendix to that Act.
View or download a copy of the AUCLA (PDF size: 601kb)
The National Co-operatives Law Updates is a free, subscription e-news service providing stakeholders with information about the various stages in the development and commencement of the CNL. Go to the National Co-operatives Law Updates page to view or download all editions.
Subscribe to receive the Co-operatives National Law Update to receive email alerts about developments in this project.
The Co-operatives National Law (CNL) is being implemented as a staged process, where each State or Territory commences its CNL when its legislation (eg. enabling laws and Local Regulations) and supporting arrangements are in place.
Differences between the States and Territories will affect the date on which the CNL can be started in that jurisdiction, eg. election cycles, changes of governments and legislative priorities. Jurisdictions that have commenced their CNL laws are listed in the following table. The Co-operatives Acts and their supporting Regulations for these jurisdictions have been repealed upon the commencement of the CNL in the particular State or Territory.
|State or Territory||Start date||Supporting and contact information|
Same date as Vic
NSW is the lead (host) jurisdiction for the AUCLA and CNL.
Enabling law: Co-operatives (Adoption of National Law) Act 2012 (NSW)
View or download: Commencement Proclamation for NSW CNL (PDF size: 21kb)
Go to the Frequently asked questions page to view or download detailed information about the commencement of the CNL and an outline of the impact of the changes on the co-operatives sector in NSW.
For further information about the CNL template, NSW CNL and NSW based co-operatives, refer to:
phone: NSW Fair Trading, Registry Services 1800 502 042
Enabling law: Co-operatives National Law Application Act 2013 (Vic)
For further information about the Vic CNL and co-operatives based in Vic, refer to:
phone: Consumer Affairs Victoria 1300 55 81 81
Enabling law: Co-operatives National Law (South Australia) Act 2013
For further information about the SA CNL and co-operatives based in SA, refer to
phone: Consumer and Business Services (CBS) Licensing and Registration 131 882
For further information about the NT CNL and co-operatives based in NT, refer to:
phone: Department of Business, Registry Services (08) 8999 1800
Enabling law: Co-operatives National Law (Tasmania) Act 2015
For further information about the Tas CNL and co-operatives based in Tas, refer to:
phone: Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading 1300 654 499
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