March 2014 Issue 91

It’s about time there was one body representing business in the ACT

B2B Editor1 March 2014

The recent announcement by the Canberra Business Council (Council) and the ACT & Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Chamber) that they would work together to create one body to represent business in the region – is a no brainer and well overdue.

The history of the split from the Chamber of a number of heavy hitters about 30 years ago to form the Business Council, is just that, history. Also reconciled to history is the reason that the two organisations haven’t reunited in the past 10 years was because the Chamber had two conditions: 1 the new organisation would be called the Chamber; and 2 the CEO would be Chris Peters. Not exactly a great negotiating position.

The fact is that there are many businesses doing it tough in the ACT and having to negotiate and tippy toe around two organisations, let alone pay two sets of fees and attend two sets of functions and meetings every month is a ridiculous burden to ask hard working business people to commit to (and of course most haven’t – I think there are less than 20 businesses that are members of both organisations).

Now this proposed new organisation (Don’t call it a ‘merger’, it’s definitely not a ‘merger’), will be well served by any of the current sitting board members, staff and existing CEOs. It will be a shame to lose any of these people along the way. But, this will happen, and the new organisation will move forward as a stronger, more professional, voice for business in the ACT Region.

Separately, the Chamber and the Council have done good jobs representing business in the ACT – but they have also been a shining example of the criticisms business sometimes targets at government: these being, duplication, inefficiency and wasting taxpayers (business community) money.

B2B magazine is very positive about the ‘new organisation’ and urges all eligible members to vote in favour of it.

Below is the text issued by both organisations announcing their intention to create a single organisation:

The Canberra Business Council (Council) and the ACT & Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Chamber) have announced their intention to take a proposal to their members to create a single organisation to represent the interests of business in Canberra and the region.

The boards of both organisations have been considering this prospect and have both unanimously voted, subject to due diligence, to put the resolution to members.

The purpose of creating a single organisation is to combine the experience and resources of the Chamber and the Council to provide a greater depth and quality to the important services that they provide to business.

“It’s time for the Council and the Chamber to come together as a single organisation to represent the interests of business in Canberra and the region,” said Michelle Melbourne, Chair of the Council and Julian Barrington-Smith, Chair of the Chamber.

“By combining the skills, experience and resources of the Chamber and Council we will create a single, stronger organisation.

“It will have a stronger membership base, create more opportunity for collaboration, networking, thought leadership and provide better services to the business community. Business in Canberra and the region will be better served by bringing two organisations together as one.

“From the smallest business to the biggest business, we intend to create a new organization that will work hard to understand their needs and help them to grow and prosper. Ultimately what’s good for business is good for Canberra and the region and we certainly believe that this move is in the best interests of both.”

The two boards have appointed Deloitte to manage the process. Deloitte is supported by a series of sub committees made up from board members of both organisations.

“This is a genuine, collaborative effort to do something that is in the best interests of our members,” Melbourne and Barrington- Smith said. “We know that by coming together as one we can have a single point of view and provide stronger leadership and a sharper focus on the needs of our business community.

“There are a range of details that still need to be worked through and we are confident that we will be in a position to put a resolution to both memberships in the near future.”

For the resolution to succeed, 75% of the members present and who are eligible to vote, must vote yes.