Peter Anderson has been confirmed as the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Anderson has been acting in the role since the resignation of former chief executive Peter Hendy earlier this year.
Hendy’s performance in the role was considered controversial by some who believed he crossed the line between legitimate advocacy for his members and partisan support for the Coalition.
The issue came to a head during last year’s election campaign when ACCI co-ordinated an advertising campaign supporting the industrial relations laws at the time.
Following Labor’s election win, Hendy resigned to become chief of staff for new Opposition leader Brendan Nelson. Anderson took over as acting chief executive of ACCI and has since spearheaded ACCI’s participation in policy debates around Labor’s first tranche of industrial reforms and the search for solutions to the skills shortage.
Anderson acknowledges that building a fresh relationship with the federal Labor government will be part of his role as chief executive.
“I will be working to make sure we have a close but independent relationship with government, not in any way compromised by either side of politics,” Anderson says. “We need to move beyond a political fight and into a position where we are dealing with the policy and regulatory issues business is concerned about. That doesn’t mean abandoning the core values the business community stands for, but it does mean recognising we have to work within the paradigm of the government of the day.”
As for the future, Anderson nominates negotiating reform in areas like industrial relations and climate change and increased communication with the employer community as important priorities.
“There will be more consulation between business organisations and employers and greater participation by membership. I want the membership to increase and that will happen if they have a greater appreciation of just how important it is to have strong organisation acting for them,” he says.
Anderson began his career in business representation with the Retail Traders Association of South Australia. Following roles in law and the public sector, he joined ACCI in 2002 as its director of workplace policy.