It is very hard to fully grasp the influence that Dr Christopher PetersAM OI JP had on the day to day life of The ACT; it is only whensomeone of his calibre is no longer with us that his contributionis fully appreciated. Chris managed to get involved in all things Canberra, and he did so because of his love for our city and because hetruly believed that everybody could make a difference if they had thedesire, and Chris did that wholesale. His business card was legendary;with all the boards, positions and committees he headed up, he neededa card that would fold into booklet form to get them all on!
Born and raised in Adelaide, Chris was the son of an Adelaide G.P.who lived in the “battler” suburbs, but had the fortune to be educatedat one of Adelaide’s top schools; this gave him the ability to look at anissue from different perspectives and a capacity to quickly and conciselysummarise the salient points. His first exposure to volunteering cameduring his last years at school when he undertook administrative workfor the Scout Movement, quickly becoming the chief administrator in S.A.
Chris started his career as an entrepreneur importing and sellingwaterbeds before he had even left school. He evolved this into a businesswhich imported some of the finest brands in luxury goods. As a result ofthis, Chris became involved in the South Australian Company DirectorsAssociation which resulted in him taking up the CEO position in Sydneywith national body, subsequently merged to form The AustralianInstitute of Company Directors. During this tenure, Chris was involvedin influential policy decisions which would ultimately be used toformulate ASIC. From there, Chris became the CEO of the AustralianInstitute of Architects and the CEO of the Printing Industry Association,before taking up the position of CEO at The ACT & Region Chamber ofCommerce and Industry, a position he held for 15 years, whilst at thesame time immersing himself in all aspects of life in The ACT.
Chris often said that the time Canberra came of age as a communitywas during the period immediately after the 2003 Bushfire disaster. Chriswas a powerful driving force in rallying together business, governmentand community organisations to deliver some extraordinary outcomes.
In recognition of his services to the community, Chris was awardedthe AM in 2004, an honorary Doctorate by the University of Canberrain 2009 and ACT Citizen of the Year in 2012 and the Order of Isabelde Catolica by The King of Spain in 2008 for services to The Spanish Diplomatic Corp.
Chris was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2011 and true toform, immediately set about immersing himself in everything he neededto know about the disease; he gave regular updates to friends andcolleagues and volunteered for the committee of the new ACT CancerCentre, putting forward many suggestions and insights gained as apatient in the current system. Chris underwent various treatments foreighteen months and up until the end of January had been responding well; unfortunately he suffered, what was initially thought to be, a minorsetback, which resulted in complications from which he was not able to recover.
Up until shortly before the time of his passing Chris was very active,leading or serving in forty organisations, committees and groups acrossall facets of life in The ACT, in the fields of commerce, education, health,tourism, defence, immigration and charities. His connections withinthe Diplomatic Corp enabled foreign diplomats to settle quickly inCanberra and the relationships he established have been invaluablein the establishment of business links with many overseas countries.His passion and patronage of classical music within The ACT were wellknown. He spearheaded the public battle for the retention of teaching services at The ANU School of Music during the period of uncertaintyand downsizing in 2012 and was a proud patron of The Canberra Symphony Orchestra.
Chris will be missed for his quick wit and smile, his generosity ofspirit, his innate diplomacy and negotiating skill as well as his unerringperception and understanding of the nature of business and its oftencomplex relationship with Government in The ACT.
Chris is survived by his wife, sister, brother and father. The Staff and the Board of The Chamber would like to offer them our heartfelt condolences.