Hunter LETS

 

 
Hunter LETS - Local Exchange Trading System
H
UNTER
LOCAL ENERGY TRADING SYSTEM
Trade locally and be prosperous!

HunterLETS Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Who can join a LETSystem?
Anyone can join a LETSystem; aged people, builders, unemployed, sole parents, lawyers, craftspeople, people with disabilities, teachers, small business operators, healers, shops, children. However HunterLETS has the right to veto any membership which they consider not to be in the best interests of the group.

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Must I trade?
There is never an obligation to trade if it is not in your interest to do so.

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What happens if someone goes away leaving a negative balance?
Not much, provided that the rest of the members carry on trading with each other. Members can't take Mollys with them and can't spend them outside the system. This question reflects a justifiable concern about cheating within a co-operative activity. They have taken more goods and services from the trading community than they have given. Members need to abide by point 11, Conditions of Membership. HunterLETS requests that members make every reasonable effort to bring their account to a zero balance before leaving the system.

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What if I move away from the area?
Generally you should bring your account as close as possible to being balanced. If you intend to move away from the area permanently, please advise the 'office' before you move.

 

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How do people value goods and services within a LETSystem?
As LETS uses a philosophy of "time and energy" and each member's times is equally valuable, HunterLETS likes to suggest a base rate of 10-20 Mollys per hour regardless of skilled or non skilled labour. In this way activities which are traditionally low-paid tend to be regarded more generously. As there is never an obligation to trade, if you consider the market value to be too high you can decline to trade.

By using a 'local currency' that is abundant, people are able to value each other more appropriately.

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I value myself but don't I have to be measured by market rates?
When you use a LETSystem, you are participating in an internal market, which is subtly different from the national or regional markets, which use conventional money.

Everyone is still keen to get as much cash as possible. But the ability to earn LETSystem money is enhanced and there is pressure to spend it rather than hoard it.

These factors can combine to give a much lower spread between low price and high price services. People who overcharge find that their trading slows up dramatically and their ability to earn is reduced.

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Can people profit from our trading?
LETSystems are ethically based trading systems in that they are community based and controlled and no person can profit from the LETSystem in itself, though anyone can benefit from any trading they do in the sustem.

Local currency is also ethically driven in that its worth is derived from a member's commitment to return the value of the goods and services received to the other members of the LETSystem. If a person attempts to "rip off" a LETSystem, other account holders can simply refuse to trade with them. To ensure this, each member is allowed to know the balance and turnover of any other member, but no other trading information.

LETSystems are cost-of service, not for profit systems run and operated by the members. No person or organisation outside the system can profit or benefit from the system, either in dollars or local currency.

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What about potential abuse?
The potential exists for an individual to take and not return. However, even if this does take place, the people who have received payment will be able to trade unimpaired. If too many people do this the others will slow their trading down and their ability to spend will be reduced.

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Are there any risks?
Not unless you want to take some. Participation does not make you liable for the affairs of the other members or for the LETSystem itself.

When trading, it is in your interest to obtain the current cost of similar goods and services outside the LETSystem. DO ask for a written quote for work, prior to the work being done. As with all business dealings, it is advisable to negotiate an exchange of Mollys prior to the trade taking place (whether you negotiate an hourly rate or contract price).

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What about Centrelink?
Centrelink supports the idea of non-profit community trading systems and exempts all LETSystems income from declaration, ie: it will not affect any benefit or pension.

However, you should not allow LETSystem trading to interfere with your obligations to be available for work or training programs.

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What about the Taxation Department?
Accountability for taxes incurredby members is the obligation of those involved in the exchange. The LETSystem has no obligation or liability to report to taxation authorities or to collect taxes on their behalf.

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Who guarantees the goods and services offered?
There is no control, or monitoring by the LETSystem itself, of either the rates people charge or of the quality of work performed. However, normal consumer affairs and small claims tribunal rules do apply and if there is conventional protection for services performed (eg: Law Society, Master Builders Association etc), these also apply with local currency trading.

HunterLETS provides no warranty or undertaking as to value, condition or quality of the items exchanged is expressed or implied for claims for injury or damages of any nature arising from trade between members.

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Moving? Want to transfer your current LETS balance to another LETSystem?
Permission from the other LETSystem will be required. You may be asked to pay membership fees to the new system.

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What about confidentiality?
All account and trading details are confidential, except that any account holder may know the balance and turnover of another. This enables everyone to particpate in regulating the system. Members phone numbers and addresses are printed in the Newsletters and Directory, but all other information is confidential.

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Inappropriate behaviour
Should any member behave in an abusive, improper or inappropriate manner toward another member, HunterLETS could invoke cancellation of membership.

The members concerned are encouraged to employ a mediator, but should this process fail to reconcile the issue, cancellation of membership could occur.

Any behaviour which may fall within the jurisdiction of the Police Department should be reported.

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What is the Community Chest?
One of the purposes of a LETSystem is to help its members realise that they have things to offer, and they are a valuable resource to the community. Some LETSystems have a special fund (of member donated LETS units) which provides for those people in the local community who, due to their frail age or disability, may not be able to contribute to the system.

The HunterLETS members who provide these services are credited from the Community Chest.

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Why does HunterLETS call their unit of currency a Molly?

Firstly, HunterLETS is the result of an amalgamation of four systems- Maitland, Cessnock, Newcastle and the Central Coast. The Maitland system called their unit of currency after a convict woman called Molly Morgan who was dubbed with many titles, two of which were "Convict to Queen" and "Queen of the Hunter Valley".

If Molly Morgan (1782-1835) were alive today half of Maitland's business area might be paying rent into her bank account. Molly Morgan was one of the most keen, self-willed and resourceful convict women to be trasnported to Australia's undeveloped soil, a born leader. She acquired large areas of land in addition to her grants and at one time "Wallis Plains" was known as "Molly Morgan Plains".

Many stories exist about her exploits and "friendship" with officials, but she was a firm friend of the emancipists and the convicts and many of the residents of the area owed their establishment and survival to her, often riding many miles to bring comfort to a sick settler with little thought of her own well being. Molly had acquired a farm of 203 acres at Anvil Creek (Greta) in addition to her West Maitland holdings and it was here that she died in 1835.

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