Peter Hendy, the high profile and occasionally controversial chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has resigned.
Hendy announced yesterday that he is leaving the role to become chief of staff to opposition leader Brendan Nelson, a move that will reinforce the view held in some circles that he was a highly partisan political operator during his time at ACCI.
As a member of former workplace relations minister Peter Reith’s staff, Hendy was one of the architects of the Coalition’s WorkChoices legislation.
In his role as ACCI chief executive he was a strong advocate for the laws, prompting Labor leader Kevin Rudd to accuse him of acting as a “Liberal Party operative” earlier this year.
But in his parting statement Hendy was unapologetic about the approach he took during his six years as chief executive, saying that it had helped ACCI become “the pre-eminent business representative in Australia”.
He also took the opportunity to take what will be seen as a swipe at industry groups that have taken a less activist approach to business issues.
“Most importantly it [ACCI] is an organisation that has had ‘the courage of its own convictions’ and is prepared to advance policy in the interests of its business constituency,” Hendy said. “It is very important that this remains the case.”
Hendy’s departure is the third high profile business group leader to move in recent months. In November Richard Evans left his position as Franchise Council of Australia chief executive to take up the reigns at the Australian Retailers Association. He will be replaced at the Franchise Council by communications professional Steven Wright.
ACCI has appointed director of workplace relations policy Peter Anderson as its interim chief executive until a permanent occupant for the position can be found.