Ashburton crowned Cooperative Capital


Ashburton has been crowned the Cooperative Capital of New Zealand:

The NZ Cooperatives Association has awarded Ashburton the Cooperative Capital title as part of the United Nations 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, which is being recognised by cooperatives around the world.

Cooperative Association chairperson Blue Read says Ashburton’s cooperatives provide for virtually every farming, business and household requirement a community could ever want or need. . . “

Local farmer Jack Allan is a Fonterra milk supplier and a former chairman of the Ashburton Trading Society, now branded ATS. He likes the idea of Mid-Canterbury and Ashburton being branded the cooperative capital.

“Just look at what cooperatives have done for the region and even nationally.” Mr Allan said. “Cooperatively-owned buying groups like ATS have been the catalyst for competitive prices in the rural supplies sector for the entire Canterbury Province and even further afield.” 

“When ATS started we didn’t advertise for members. Farmers saw the benefits and just joined. Most farmers would have recouped their membership fee with their first fertiliser order,” he said. “For farming to be successful we rely on keeping our costs in check and maximising the sale of what we produce.”

Cooperatives are more prolific in rural areas, which is put down to the community knowing their neighbours and a greater readiness in the country to help each other out. . .

Ashburton District Council Mayor Angus McKay said he was delighted with the “Cooperative Capital” title, and is a member of several local cooperative businesses. He is particularly proud of Ashburton Electricity which returns $3 to $5 million (depending on profitability) to the community each year. This includes between $100 and $140 in free line charges for low income families. . .

With more than 40 cooperatives, Ashburton has earned the title of capital.

Could Kiwibank become a co-operative?


 The idea of the taxpayers owning a bank was such an anathema to me that I didn’t step foot in a post office for more than two years after Kiwibank was established. So deep is my aversion to it, I still enter one only when there is no alternative.

National made a pre-election pledge that it wouldn’t sell any assets this term and made it clear that if it had plans for any sales after that it would make that quite clear before the next elections so voters would know.

They have more than enough on their hands at the moment without worrying about a possible second term, but when they start to look ahead they ought to consider this suggestion from Peter Macdougall, chair of the NZ Cooperatives Association and a director of Ballance, in the association’s latest newsletter:

Before becoming the Government, National didn’t see why a government should be involved in banking. All the major trading banks in New Zealand, however, are owned offshore and their profits go to their investor shareholders.


If Kiwibank were to become a cooperative bank, expanded rapidly into the agriculture sector, would it be supported?


I believe it would, I believe it should, and the timing is clearly right – “Kiwibank, owned by New Zealanders for the benefit of its cooperative members”.

I don’t have a problem with foreign ownership but many people do so this idea is worth investigating because it would get the bank off the government’s books while still satisfying those who want it to stay in New Zealand hands.

Aiming at agriculture isn’t silly either because the growing demand for food means that primary producers are likely to lead the recovery from the recession.

There is already a very successful example of co-operative ownership of a bank which is active in rural financing. Rabobank , which is owned by the Dutch, has a triple A rating which shows the model could work.

UPDATE: Anti-Dismal says no and explains why.

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