The History of ACBC
In 1973 Minister for Trade and Secondary Industry Jim Cairns led a delegation of 27 Australian business leaders to China, where sessions were held at the Great Hall of the People with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. A year after the delegation, Australian trade with China increased fivefold from AUD $200 million to AUD $ 1 billion.
A key initiative from the delegation was the formation of the Australia China Business Cooperation Committee (ACBCC) – a national organisation administered by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Canberra. ACBCC represented some of Australia’s largest corporate firms.
In 1976, separate State-based Australia China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCCI) organisations were established, firstly in NSW, then Victoria and followed by other States. While the ACBCC represented larger national corporates, the ACCCIs tended to be comprised of more smaller and medium sized enterprises.
Both organisations took regular missions to China and were recognized as representative Australian business associations by the China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). ACBCC and ACCCI continued to operate separately until the early 1990s although the ACBCC had a name change to reflect the growing importance of China to become the first ACBC in late 1980’s.
In the early 1990s, a great deal of work was undertaken particularly by the Victorian and NSW ACCCI branches with ACBC over several years, given both organisations’ complementarity, and to a degree, duplication of purpose. This resulted in new Articles of Association for a new ACBC organisation. The result was the establishment in 1996 of a ‘new’ ACBC incorporating both the national ACBC and the State-based ACCCI’s, to create the fore-runner of our present ACBC.
A new constitution was introduced in 2011 which transformed the organisation from a member-based bilateral business body to a corporate entity. This structure exists today and comprises a national body with a National Board and secretariat, and state branches administered by Executive Committees.
Life Members of ACBC
Barrister Bill O’Shea AM went on to become the first ACBC life member – an illustrious group that also includes Ian McCubbin, Dr Desmond Williams, David Powell, Michael Pointer AM, Tony Kosky, Chris Wang, Barry White, Jim Short, Robin Chambers AO, Maree Arnason, Frank Tudor, Paul Glasson, Kevin Hobgood-Brown AM, Toni Feddersen, the late John Crone (dec. 2017) and John Brumby AO.