Our History

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has a history that dates back more than 190 years.

The Chamber Movement commenced in Australia when the Sydney Chamber of Commerce was established in 1826. Across the 19th century Chambers of Commerce were formed in Adelaide (1839), Melbourne, Hobart and Launceston (each in the 1850s), Brisbane (1868) and Perth (1890).

Chambers of Manufacturers were also formed in this era, including in Victoria (1865), South Australia (1869), NSW (1885), Western Australia (1890) and Queensland (1911). Australia’s first industry association was Master Builders Australia (1870).

Employer unions and federations also emerged, including the Victorian Employers Union (1865), the NSW Employers Union (1888), South Australian Employers Federation (1889) and the Queensland Employers Federation (1886). Businesspeople were central to Australia’s development from the beginning, with a growing population driving the establishment of enterprises.In the decade before Federation in 1901, several Australia-wide bodies were formed to advocate national policies: the Australian Chamber of Commerce (ACC), the Associated Chambers of Manufacturers of Australia (ACMA) and the Australian Council of Employers Federations (ACEF). Many of Australia’s founders were drawn from the ranks of Australian business, which was a major supporter of the Federation Movement.

Through the Great War, the Great Depression, World War II and the post-war boom, business organisations continued advocacy on behalf of private enterprise and the community in pursuit of a prosperous Australia.

In 1977 the ACMA and the ACEF merged to form the Confederation of Australian Industry (CAI). In 1992 the CAI merged with the ACC to form the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).

The ACCI worked with Labor and Liberal-National governments in a constructive way during a period of significant economic reform.

In 2015 the organisation launched a new corporate identity, featuring the Federation Star to demonstrate the way we bring together businesses from all parts of the country. The organisation became known as the Australian Chamber, helping to build recognition for the Chamber Movement in towns, cities and states across Australia.

The introduction of the Business Leaders Council in 2015 allowed individual businesses to get directly involved in Australian Chamber activities for the first time.

With our national member network of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Associations, the Australian Chamber champions policies that make it easier for business to deliver jobs and create wealth, to benefit the community we serve.

Download the Memorandum of Association of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Chief Executive Officers

  • Andrew McKellar, 2021 – Present
  • James Pearson, 2016 – 2021
  • Kate Carnell AO, 2014-2016
  • Peter Anderson, 2008-2014
  • Peter Hendy, 2002-2008
  • Lyndon Rowe, (acting) 2001-2002
  • Mark Paterson AO, 1996-2001
  • Ian Spicer AM, 1992-1996


  • Mark Birrell AM, 2023 – Present
  • Nola Watson, 2021 – 2023
  • Ray Sputore, 2019 – 2021
  • Jeremy Johnson, 2017 – 2019
  • Terry Wetherall, 2015 – 2017
  • Peter Hood, 2013-2015
  • Richard Holyman, 2011-2013
  • David Michaelis, 2009-2011
  • Tony Howarth AO, 2007-2009
  • Peter O’Brien, 2005-2007
  • Neville Sawyer, 2003-2005
  • David Gray, 2001-2003
  • Dr John Keniry AM, 1999-2001
  • Robert Gerard AO, 1997-1999
  • Graeme Samuel AO, 1995-1997
  • Harold Clough AO, OBE, 1993-1995
  • John Clark, 1992-1993

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