Our History

Canberra’s business chamber has been around for more than 80 years. It began as the Canberra Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1932. Since then, there have been a variety of name changes and mergers that have lead to organisation being constituted in its current legal form and name in 2014.

The Canberra Chamber of Commerce held its first meeting on 25th February 1932 [1]. Although surviving records are limited, by 1936 it had 79 members. [2] The Chamber continued operating for many years, and in 1991 merged with a small local trader district group, the Fyshwick Chamber of Commerce, to become the ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Alongside the Chamber, a specific industrial organisation for local employers, the ACT Employers Association, was formed in the 1940s. It began publishing wages guidelines, newsletters, trader directories and other material for its members in 1949; other sources suggest it may in fact have begun as early as 1943. In subsequent years its name changed to the ACT Employers Federation (which is traded under in the 1960s and 1970s), and then to the Confederation of ACT Industry (in the 1980s and 1990s) [3]. The Confederation was one of the original founding members of the national Confederation of Australian Industry in 1977, which in turned merged with the Australian Chamber of Commerce in 1992 to form the modern-day peak national voice of business, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) [4].

The Confederation later merged with the ACT Chamber to form one organisation, and its name was slightly changed once more, to that of the ACT & Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACT CCI).

Yet another separate business organisation emerged in 1979 – a group of local business leaders operating under the title of the “Committee of 22,” to lobby for business-friendly policies. It  underwent its own series of name changes, becoming the Canberra Association for Regional Development and then in the early 1990s to the Canberra Business Council.

In mid-2014 the ACT & Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Canberra Business Council merged into today’s current entity, the Canberra Business Chamber.


1920s: Kingston, Manuka, Sydney Building & Melbourne Buildings open as first retail centres

1927: Federal Parliament opens in Canberra

1932: Canberra Chamber of Commerce formed

1940s: ACT Employers Association formed

1979: Canberra Business Council formed

1984: 10,800 private sector businesses trading in the ACT, employing 54,000 people [4]

1989: Self government: ACT obtains its own government, Legislative Assembly, and right to make its own laws

2001: 20,700 businesses in Canberra, employing 100,000 people [5]

2004-2006: ACT Small Business Commissioner created by ACT government

2010-2012: Former ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell serves as CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry

2010: 25,300 businesses in Canberra [6]

2014: Canberra Business Council and the ACT & Region Chamber merge to form the Canberra Business Chamber

Chamber Officebearers

Canberra Business Chamber Chairs

2018-current: Archie Tsiromokis
2015-2018: Glenn Keys
2014-2015: Tony Henshaw

Canberra Business Chamber CEOs

2020-current: Graham Catt
 Michael Schaper
2014-2018: Robyn Hendry

Canberra Chamber of Commerce (later ACT & Region Chamber) Chairs/Presidents

2012-2014: Julian Barrington-Smith
2009-2012: Brendon Prout
2008-2009: Lorin Joyce
2006-2007: Kathy Kostyrko
2003-2006: Frank Crews
2003: Kathy Kostyrko
2001-2003: Brendon Prout
1997-2001: Record incomplete
1995-1997: Robert Mansfield
1992-1995: John Louttit
1991: P.J. Colman
1990-1991: A.J De Domenico
1988-1989: M. Gaughan
1986-1987: J.H. Notaras
1984-1985: L.V. Westende
1983: G.L. Bray
1981-1982: H.G. Roberts
1979-1980: David Cusack
1977-1978: W.R. Porter
1975-1976:  J.G. Service
1973-1974: Dr E.D.L. Killen
1971-1972: K.J. Davies
1969-1970: R.H. Webster
1968: D.W. Alexander
1966-1967: E.A. Baker
1964-1965: D.R. Mackie
1962-1963: R.P. Greenish
1960-1961: R.W. Rowell
1958-1959: R.W. Chew
1956-1957: A.W. Wallace
1953-1955: C. Chandler
1946-1952: M.J. Moir
1939-1945: W.G. Woodger
1935-1938: W.H.B. Dickson
1933-1934: R.A. McKillop
1932: J.S. Crapp 

Canberra Chamber of Commerce (later ACT & Region Chamber) Secretaries/Executive Directors/CEOs

2013-2014: Andrew Blyth
Christopher Peters
1994-1997: Michael Alves
1992-1994: Pamela Scarr
1954-1991: S.G. East
1953: J. Brack
1949-1952: R. Rowe
1948-1946: O.J. Woodger
1945: M.J Moir
1942-1944: W.G. Martin
1939-1941: J.H. Jamieson
1933-1938: J.W. Grant
1932: L. Bryson

Canberra Business Council (previously Committee of 22; CARD) Chairs

2013-2014: Michelle Melbourne
2010-2013: Brand Hoff
2003-2010: Craig Sloan
2000-2003: Elizabeth Whitelaw
1998-2000: record incomplete
1994-1998: Denis Page
1993-1994: George Snow
1991-1993: John Hindmarsh
1989-1991: George Snow
1979-1989: Robin Schall

Canberra Business Council (previously Committee of 22; CARD) CEOs 

2007-2014: Chris Faulks
2002-2007: John Miller
2001-2002: Dale Budd
2001: Chris Reeves
1997-2000: Helen Leayr
1990-1997: Ossie Kleinig
1981-1990: Fred Quinane


[1] Canberra Chamber of Commerce (1989), 56th Annual Report, p.12

[2] Canberra Times (1936) “Chamber of Commerce” Wednesday 15 July, p.3.

[3] National Library of Australia “ACT Employers Federation”; Annual Report – Confederation of ACT Industry [online] https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/639491 (accessed 06 September 2019).

[4] WE Cleary, undated, “Some Memories of the Confederation of ACT Industry” Canberra