Mutuality: the power of sticking together

Published: 16th September 2021

I am back in harness and powering on for the last six weeks of my tenure here at the LGAQ, which will end at this year’s Annual Conference in Mackay.

I want to use my last few CEO wraps to leave a few key messages and ideas with you. The first is regarding mutuality.

During my recent absence, the LGAQ quietly slipped into its 126th year of existence.

The fact the LGAQ has survived and prospered for this long is testament to mutuality, the power of many. A testament to the strength of sector when we are united, with a sole purpose, sharing the costs and gains.

When I was a young child, rural mutuals abounded. Mutuals like dairy co-ops and all nature of local co-operation, right down to co-operative cash and carry general goods stores and supermarkets.

“Just taking the dairy cans to the co-op.”

“Just slipping down to the co-op to buy a few things.”

The word co-op was in daily use.

Through the LGAQ, the power of many manifests itself in many ways.

First and foremost as the collective statewide voice of local government on legislation, funding, policy and programs at the State and Federal level.

Ditto as the sole registered employer organisation for councils in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission and system.

The LGAQ stands unique in Australia in its capacity to positively influence government decision making, running multi-million-dollar campaigns and challenging the State and Federal governments in the highest court in the land when we need to, protect our members’ interests.

We don't win every argument, but we have a very good batting average, which is reflected in the unique position of the Queensland local Government system in the Australian federation.

The LGAQ is mentioned in the Queensland Constitution, an Act of Parliament, with the Minister for Local Government required to consult the Association on any legislation they intend to introduce into Parliament before doing so. 

And then comes all the cream on top, the economic benefits of mutuality.

The Roads Alliance has independently been found to have created well over $1 billion in value over its 20-year life span, a fact recognised (and awarded) by both Roads Australia and the International Roads Federation.

Then there are our insurance schemes, collectively known as LGMS, that KPMG reported have saved members $750 million on a marked-to-market basis over their 25-year life span.

KPMG similarly found the Peak Services group of businesses, in their various forms over the last quarter of a century, have saved councils half a billion dollars.

Local Buy turnover alone is quietly edging towards $1 billion per annum.

These are not made-up numbers folks. They come from one of the four largest accounting firms in the world.

To put the cherry on top, the LGAQ has handed back, as of this current financial year, about $40 million to members in cold, hard cash over the last decade.

Truly amazing.

The mutuality principle is established by case law. The following wiki reference on mutuality says it all: “The principle of mutuality is that persons or other entities that contribute to a common fund created and controlled by them for a common purpose, any surplus generated by them is not taxable and is the property of the members”.

In good old Aussie parlance it means we are all in this together and sticking with strength pays off in so many ways.