Industry Panels

“How the power of many supports regional economies”

Date: Friday 13 December 2019
Time: 10:00-11:15
Venue: Room X101, NeW Space


To showcase the strength, resilience, and innovation of co-operatives and mutuals as key contributors to regional economies in Newcastle and also in the Asia Pacific.


  1. Learn about what factors led to the establishment of the co-operative or mutual, and why it was established as a member-owned enterprise
  2. Develop an understanding of why these local cornerstone enterprises have been able to survive, thrive and grow through fluctuating economic conditions.
  3. Discuss what role does a focus on member value, collaboration and networking, business development and innovation, education and training play in resilience and regional development
  4. Learn about what are the main challenges for the co-operative or mutual sectors ahead.

About the Panel

This panel showcases how co-operatives and mutuals contribute to the development of regional economies in the Newcastle – Hunter region and in India.

Facilitator:  Trevor Stuart – Ai Group

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) is a peak employer organisation representing traditional, innovative and emerging industry sectors. We are a truly national organisation which has been supporting businesses across Australia for more than 140 years. Together with partner organisations we represent the interests of more than 60,000 businesses employing more than 1 million staff. Our vision is for a Thriving industry and a prosperous community. Trevor Stuart is the Regional Manager – Northern NSW and has previously worked in advisory roles for the Australian government and Management roles across the manufacturing, logistics, construction materials and technology sectors.

CEO, Tony Cade, HunterNet, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

The HunterNet Co-operative has over 200 manufacturing and engineering member firms and is known nationally and internationally as a successful business ‘cluster’ co-operative model that delivers business support to its members in national and international infrastructure & asset management, energy & resources, and defence.  Hunternet tells a great story of resilience, agility and collaboration, as it emerged out of necessity with the dismantling in the mid 90-ies of Newcastle’s two key industries: Australia’s largest iron smelter, BHP and the ship-building industry in the harbour. Today Hunternet Co-operative is provides its members in the Hunter/Newcastle region with a range  of support services, including business development, marketing and communications, innovation, policy advocacy, training & education, as well as industry specific support forums.

HunterNet History

Director Mr. T. P. Sethumadavan – Uralungal Labor Contractors Cooperative, India

Mr. T.P. Sethumadavan is the Director of the Education Department of the ULCCS.

In February 1925, Guru Vagbhatnanda launched the Uralungal daily laborer’s co-operative society in a remote village in Malabar, Northern Kerala. Today ULCCS is one of the largest labour contract co-operative societies in Asia, employing 6500 workers. It is run by the cooperative principles, ensuring democratic election, workers are paid 30% more than industry average, and they can also access loans, pension and health insurance. Their main business operations involve large infrastructure and constructions projects, agriculture and IT/ITES, cybertechnology, housing and tourism development. The ULCCS Foundation offers education and aged care and health care solutions for the poorer people in the community. ULCCS has through its strong commitment for worker welfare and community benefits contributed vastly to the development of many Indian regions.

CEO, Robert Gauta, Commercial Fishermen’s Co-operative, Newcastle

The Commercial Fishermen’s Co-Operative commenced in 1945 to provide services to the local commercial fishers. It has 6 receiving depots located over a 200km coastline area between Tuggerah and Seal Rocks. It has 4 retail seafood shops and 3 restaurants leased out by the co-operative, with administration located at Wickham Head Office in Newcastle.

The co-op has 110 members and employs 50 local people. The Co-op is the single largest supplier of Fresh Seafood to Sydney Fish Market, providing around 8% of total NSW supply.

As a leader in the seafood industry, the Commercial Fishermen’s Co-op actively pursues strict environmentally sustainable practices at all levels of our operation. In recent years we have also installed solar panels and undertaken energy saving upgrades to plant and equipment. Commercial fishing has been a part of the NSW society since white settlement and continues today to play an important part of the social and economic fabric of communities along the coastline. Professional fishers play an integral role by supplying sustainable wild harvest local seafood to the community.

CEO Geoffrey Succombe, Mutual Bank, Maitland, NSW, Australia

Serving the Maitland and its members for 130 years, the Mutual Bank was founded in 1888, our commitment to our members has never waved, pushing through even the toughest of times — the Great Depression, two World Wars, soaring interest rates, and of course, the 1955 Maitland Flood. The Mutual today offers an extensive range of financial products that are helping families own their dream homes, enabling local businesses to grow, and teaching our youngest members about the importance of financial literacy through our Bank at School program.

The Mutual Bank, is a member owned, member-centric organisation committed to delivering industry leading service and financial products to the Hunter Region.

Established in 1888 The Mutual Bank was formed by a group of passionate Maitland locals with the mission to ensure that financial investment stayed in the local area.

Originally called The Maitland Permanent Building, Investment and Loan Society Limited and Savings Bank, the name was extensive, but the intention of investing local money within the Hunter community was straightforward.

Throughout its history The Mutual Bank has prevailed through two World Wars, the Great Depression, floods, coalfield riots, and the Global Financial Crisis. Over that time we’ve seen The Mutual Bank become one of the most trusted financial institutions in the region.

The strength of this foundation on community remains a pivotal focus within The Mutual Bank today, and continues to be a guiding principle.

The Mutual Bank is committed to being an active participant in the community, providing grassroots support to a diverse range of community endeavours embracing education, sporting, charitable, cultural interest groups and organisations. The intent of our founders rings as true for us today as it did in 1888. Community is part of The Mutual Bank’s DNA and we are committed to remaining an active and involved participant in our community.

At The Mutual Bank we are committed to providing our members with the best possible products and competitive interest rates to help our members achieve their financial goals, and we remain dedicated to continually evolving and we look forward to continuing to serve and support the people of the Hunter for generations to come.

Director Kate Davies, Tooraweenah Prime Lamb Marketing Co-operative Ltd, Gilgandra, NSW, Australia

TPLMC is a Co-operative with over 90 prime lamb and merino lamb producing members.  It is based at Tooraweenah near the scenic Warrumbungle Mountains in the heart of the central west sheep and wheat mixed farming belt.  The majority of members are in the region spanning from Tullamore to Nyngan and from Wellington to Gunnedah as well as producers in far northern NSW and southern Qld. Established in 1995 a group of farmers from the Tooraweenah/Gulargambone/Gilgandra area who specialise in prime lamb production decided that they needed to remove some of the variables from their profession and drive confidence and stability through the market.

“How co-operative innovation and digital technology can contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals.”

Date: Friday 13 December 2019
Time: 16:00-17:30
Room: X101, NeW Space


To showcase co-operative innovations in Australia working towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals.


  1. Provide concrete examples of ways that co-ops are tackling contemporary wicked problems including precarious work, sustainable development goals, waste recycling, and renewable energy.
  2. Improve our understanding of the potential of the cooperative business model to contribute to youth employment and regional development
  3. Be introduced to the key features of platform co-operativism as an alternative to extractive digital platforms in the sharing economy.
  4. Raise awareness of new co-operative networks and processes that encourage innovative thinking and support start-up co-ops and co-operative entrepreneurship.

About the Panelists


Facilitator:  Ms Bronwen Morgan – Professor at UNSW Law School


Bronwen Morgan is a socio-legal scholar working at the intersection of law and social science, with a strong interest in new and diverse economies, mostly of the kind affiliated with solidarity and the creation of a commons. Her empirical focus has included energy, food, water, and new kinds of lawyers. She has longstanding research interests in regulation, especially the tension between deploying technical expertise on the one hand and collective commitments to democracy and conviviality on the other hand.

Ms. Jarra Hicks – Founding Director for the Community Power Agency – NSW, Australia


The Community Power Agency was set up in 2011 by Nicky Ison and Jarra Hicks after extensive travel to community renewable energy projects world-wide. Jarra in addition finalised a PhD in community Renewable energy projects in 2017. The Community Power Agency specialise in supporting community groups in setting up a community owned renewable energy (CORE) project. Through capacity building and working collaboratively they seek to overcome systemic barriers that face the renewable energy sector as a whole. The Community Power Agency aims to:  1) Decarbonise  and 2) Decentralise energy supply; 3) Democratise energy governance through community ownership and participation; and 4) Demonstrate that renewable energy works and brings lasting benefits.

Molly Kendall – Coordinator of Resource Work Co-op. Reuse Recycle Resource Waste Solutions – Hobart, Tasmania


Resource Work Cooperative is a not-for-profit, self-funded worker’s cooperative based in Hobart, Tasmania. It is Australia’s largest not-for-profit worker owned co-operative. Resource was founded in 1993, and now employs 35 local Tasmanians, mostly active members, who democratically govern the social enterprise by way of monthly General Meetings. Resource activities include 1) Scrap and Ewaste recycling, 2) Education Centre - school workshops and repair café events 3) Art From Trash - community art exhibition 4) “Arts Parts” – Art supply store – sourced from local industry. 5) Resource “Deconstruction” (demolition) service which dismantles and reuses entire buildings by hand. 6) “Tip Shop” which sources stock via donations from the public, industry, community furniture collection and even salvages directly from landfill!  The coop has three main objectives: 1) To create employment; 2) To reduce landfill and 3) To promote waste minimisation in the community.

Molly is also convenor of ‘Cooperatives Tasmania’, an advocacy and networking group inspired by a barrage of inquiries into Cooperative structure.

Mr. Andrew Ward – Director of the Co-op Incubator, NSW/Victoria, Australia


The Co-op Incubator is an incubator for Member-Owned Enterprises. The co-op incubator was set up because to address the need for support of co-operative businesses when they go through an incubation period like any other type of business.   Incubation requires skilled and experienced people to do stuff before the business can be formed and operate. allows Projects (pre-formation Co-operatives) and people to find a common arena to develop and share co-operative ideas, skills and administrative advice in order for the co-operative to be formed and registered. The co-op incubator is itself a co-operative, and members are people who would like to share and participate in these ideas. As a Member you benefit in providing those skills to the Projects you want to support.  The co-op incubator is located online on a digital platform, it organises webinars etc and face to face weekend workshops. Https://

Mr. Rohan Clarke – Geddup Platform Co-operative, Melbourne


Rohan Clarke works with co-operatives to develop shared technology and financing solutions. Bringing together 17 year’s experience in global financial markets, with 10 years working in community organising, he offers a unique perspective on co-operative development. Rohan is co-founder of Geddup, a distributed organising technology that is transitioning to become a platform coop owned by the schools, community groups, trade unions and foundations that use it. He is also a Director of Co-operative Bonds, Treasurer and co-founder of the Co-op Incubator, and co-founder of a community art space, MakersWindow.

David Davies – Founder, CEO Ag Unity


Founder AgUnity, FAC Global Agripreneur of the Year 2018, working on UN SDG’s, elimination of poverty and increasing smallholder farmer incomes. AgUnity is a philanthropic venture applying blockchain and smartphone technology to improve the lives of small farmer cooperatives in developing countries. Widely recognized by major NGO's and winner of many AgTech and philanthropy awards and accolades.

“Opportunities and Barriers to Co-operation and Co-op Education and Training”

Date: Friday 13 December 2019
Time: 17:00-1800
Room: X101, NeW Space


To explore what opportunities and barriers exist to co-operation among cooperatives with a particular focus on coop education and training in Oceania and the South Pacific region.


  1. Develop an understanding of the size of the coop sectors within each country
  2. Discuss opportunities and barriers of cooperation between cooperatives within each country, and for increased cooperation between cooperatives in the Asia Pacific
  3. Discuss the potential for cooperation around co-operative education and training in the region


Facilitator: Sam Byrne, Secretary of Co-ops NSW, Australia


Sam became a director of Co-ops NSW in 2013 and secretary in 2016. In this role he assists people to set up, develop, manage, govern and even close co-operative enterprises in all sectors of the economy and society. He has been active in co-operatives for 25 years. His diverse other experience includes time as a director of a mid-sized superannuation fund, as a local councillor and mayor, and as a consultant in the community sector. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a Masters of Management (Community/Not-for-profit) from the University of Technology Sydney.

Ms. Melina Morrison, CEO Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals


Melina has since 2013 been the appointed CEO of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM).

The BCCM represents leading member-owned businesses in sectors ranging from banking and finance, insurance and agriculture to housing, disability and aged care, health, motoring and mobility.

Melina is a well-known advocate for co-operative and mutually owned enterprise. Melina holds degrees in political science, law and communication.

Ms. Roz Henry, CEO Co-operative Business New Zealand


The newly appointed CEO of Cooperative Business NZ, Roz Henry, has a rich executive management background. The New Zealand co-op sector generates more than 16% of NZ’s GDP, employs 43,000 people and serves over 1.5 million members. She wants to ensure the nation’s leaders know what the coop sector is about and that it is recognised for what we contribute to New Zealand.

Mr. Joseph Ripley, Director and Registrar, Office of the Registrar of Cooperatives & Business Development Service, Vanuatu


The Office of the Registrar of Cooperatives & Business Development Services (ORCBDS) is a public service office holder appointed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) under the Cooperative Act 1986, Cap 152 (COSO Act). Mr Ridley M. Joseph was appointed to the position on March 2015.

The Registrar's office supports and regulates the Coop Societies that are incorporated under the Act. It does this in a variety of ways: by advising them on how to incorporate, by training committees, members and key staff in good corporate governance, by making sure they comply with the law and by intervening when needed.

Mr. Faizal Khan, Director and Registrar, Department of Cooperatives,  Ministry of Industry, Fiji.


DCB is a government entity under the Ministry of Indutry, Trade and Tourism. The department is responsible for formulating and implementing policies and strategies to facilitate the promotion, establishment and monitoring of cooperative business in Fiji. Its other jey role is to provide trainings and capacity-building to coop members and officials.

Mr. Ricky Manus, Registrar, Office of Cooperative Societies (OCS-PNG) Boroko, National Capital District, Papua New Guinea.


The OCS-PNG was established by the Government of Papua New Guinea in 2000 to revitalize and facilitate the development of co-operative societies in the country. They are lead agency who provides funds to co-operatives, coordinating trainings, opening up market access, administering the Co-operative Societies Act and registering co-operatives. OCS PNG is headed by the Registrar of Co-operative Societies who reports to the Minister for Trade, Commerce & Industry. They are supported by this Minister for administrative matters.


Mrs. Kammari Betiota, Director,  Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives (MCIC) Betio, Kiribati.


MCIC is one of the government ministries established in 1995. Its main functions are to enhance the development of the private sector including cooperatives and credit unions, provide business and cooperative training, auditing of cooperative and credit union societies; enhance the flow of foreign investment; promote and regulate business trade. The Ministry has joined a number of memberships to international bodies and recently received support and approve to join the ICA. There are more than 200 cooperative societies registered in Kiribati.

“Future food systems – the role of agricultural co-operatives ”

Date: Saturday 14 December 2019
Time: 11:30-12:30
Venue: Room X101, NeW Space


This panel of academics, industry representatives and consultants will showcase dairy co-operatives in the region. The panel will explore the challenges and opportunities facing the dairy industry and how dairy co-operatives can lead the way in dealing with issues of food security and environmentally sustainable production and manufacturing systems. The panel will also canvas the potential for co-operation among co-operatives and in shifting the globalisation of value chains in a fair, ethical and inclusive direction.


  1. Foster new connections and networks between industry and researchers in the dairy co-operative sector in the Asia-Pacific.
  2. Identify and elaborate on areas of common interest among co-operatives in different food production regions.
  3. Improve understanding of the role and impact of competition law and policy in the agricultural co-operative sector and the direction of future reforms.
  4. Provide concrete examples of ways that dairy co-ops are tackling contemporary environmental problems including environmental degradation, waste management and carbon emissions.
  5. Explore the potential for new entrants to the dairy co-operative sector and the opportunities and threats for smaller dairy co-operatives in existing and emerging supply and value chains.


Facilitator: Ms. Ann Apps – Lecturer, Newcastle Law School


Ann is a lecturer at Newcastle Law School, University of Newcastle.  Her broader research interests include co-operative law and governance, corporate social responsibility and legal models for social enterprise.  Ann currently teaches Contract Law, Co-operative Law and Governance and Corporate Power and Accountability to undergraduate and postgraduate students. She is a PhD candidate and her research project includes the impact of competition law and policy on the disappearance of dairy co-operatives from the dairy processing sector in NSW.

Mr. R.S. Sodhi – Managing Director, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation


R.S. Sodhi leads India’s largest food products organization (GCMMF/Amul) with a turnover of US$ 4.8 billion. He has a distinguished record of serving the dairy farmers of India for more than three decades through series of technological, marketing and supply-chain innovations. During the global dairy commodity crash of 2015, while dairy farmers across the world received 25% - 50% lesser price for their milk (compared to previous year), the milk price to Indian dairy farmers (associated with Amul cooperative) continued to grow!

Prof Nicola Shadbolt - Professor of Farm & Agribusiness Management, Massey University, New Zealand.


Delivering farm and agribusiness management research and education - risk, strategy, business analysis, cooperatives; Elected director of Fonterra Cooperative; Director of the International Food & Agribusiness Management Association and represents NZ in the International Farm Comparison Network (IFCN) in Dairying.  Editor of International Food and Agribusiness Management Review and International Journal of Agricultural Management. Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. An in-depth understanding of global farming and agribusiness. Awarded Officer of NZ Order of Merit for services to agribusiness in 2018.

Mr Greg McNamara – Chairperson Norco Co-operative Ltd


Greg McNamara has been a director of Norco Co-operative Limited for 23 years and is from the Central Region. In addition to his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors, he is a member of the Member Services Committee. In partnership with his wife Sue and son Todd, Greg runs a 300 head dairy herd at Goolmangar just outside Lismore. He has extensive experience across the agricultural sector, including dairy, beef, pigs, horticulture and animal genetics. More recently Greg has had an involvement in the Australian organic industry.

Stuart Crosthwaite – Chairperson, Mountain Milk Co-operative


Stuart Crosthwaite is a fifth generation farmer on his family property near Albury and is a co-founder of this recently established suppliers co-operative. Stuart holds a Bachelor of Agriculture, a Masters of Agribusiness and a Grad-Diploma of Applied Science, as well as an early career in consulting. Stuart and his wife Sarah, have a deep and passionate interest in the future of dairy, and back this up with major on farm investments. Stuart has also made a significant leadership contribution to the local industry. In his own words "We love what we do and where we do it. We see Mountain Milk as our vehicle to the future we want to create."

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.