The Confederation of Australian Industry (CAI) was established in 1970 and the National Farmers Federation in 1977. The CAI was the main business umbrella group. It covered employer organizations and chambers of manufacturers. However it was dominated by small to medium businesses and many large corporations were not part of it.
The Australian Business Roundtable, established in 1980, was modelled on the US Business Roundtable and made up of chief executives of 20 of Australia’s largest companies. It was established to ‘enable the participation of Chief Executives in the public policy making process’ by identifying issues, getting them on the agenda and advocating a business position on them.
Reference: John Wanna, ‘Furthering Business Interests: Business Associations and Political Representation’, in Stephen Bell and John Wanna (eds) Business-Government Relations in Australia, Sydney, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992, p. 74; Trevor Matthews, ‘Employers' Associations, Corporatism and the Accord: The Politics of Industrial Relations’, in S Bell and B Head, eds. State, Economy and Public Policy, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 204; Doug McEachern, Business Mates: The Power and Politics of the Hawke Era, Sydney, Prentice Hall, 1991, p. 33.
The Business Council of Australia (BCA) took over this role when it was formed in 1983 by the chief executives of 66 large corporations, following what they perceived as a weak showing by business at the Economic Summit organized by the newly elected Labor Government. It was made up of the chief executives of the largest corporations operating in Australia and therefore basically represented the transnationals. It quickly eclipsed the CAI, which did not allow large corporations to be members in their own right, as ‘the generator of broad business strategy on public policy questions’.
Reference: Paul Kelly, The End of Uncertainty: The Story of the 1980s, St Leonards, NSW, Allen & Unwin, 1992 , pp. 204-5, 276.
The BCA was also modelled on the US Business Roundtable and sought to provide a strategy forum and voice for big business with sophisticated and well-financed research support.
Reference: Trevor Matthews, ‘Employers' Associations, Corporatism and the Accord: The Politics of Industrial Relations’, in S Bell and B Head, eds. State, Economy and Public Policy, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 212.
The BCA now has 100 members who are CEOs of the nations largest companies. BCA claims to enable business leaders to "contribute directly to public policy debates" and to "initiate and shape the key economic and business reform debates that have underpinned Australia’s economic resurgence." BCA's policy priorities include business regulation and tax, education, infrastructure and health care. The way it achieves changes to laws and regulations is shown in the BCA's diagram to above.
In 2009 BCA called for corporate taxes to be halved to 15% and for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on consumer goods raised.
350,000 Australian businesses are members of chambers of commerce around the country and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is the umbrella organisation for these chambers and a number of other industry associations. It claims to be "Australia's largest and most representative business association" and therefore to have "the mandate and authority to be the authentic and essential connection between industry, governments, regulators and influential policy forums which impact the of doing business at home and abroad". Its aim is to "develop and advocate policies targeted to achieve a world class environment for doing business". Such policies include less tax for business, less government debt, reduced government spending and less regulation of business.
The Australian Industry Group (AIG) is an industry association representing businesses employing around 750,000 people in "manufacturing; engineering; construction; automotive; food; transport; information technology; telecommunications; call centres; labour hire; printing; defence; mining equipment and supplies; airlines; and other related service industries". The AIG was formed by the merger of the Metal Trades Industry Association (MTIA) with the Australian Chamber of Manufactures (ACM) in 1998.
AIG tells its members:
Ai Group is one of the most influential advocacy groups in Australia. We represent and promote your interests to deliver real outcomes. Our voice is heard at all levels of government and our policies cover a wide range of issues that affect your business and the environment in which you operate.