Our History


155 years Queensland.

In 2023 Business Chamber Queensland is celebrating 155 years. Since 1868 we have represented businesses of every industry, every size and in every part of the state. 

We are the state’s peak industry body, an independent, not-for-profit organisation, with a rich legacy of putting Queensland business first, providing practical support backed by innovative thinking and powerful advocacy. 

We help businesses prosper by supporting, educating and empowering them to capitalise on the extraordinary opportunities on offer in Queensland - now and into the future. 


Our rich Queensland History  

We have been at the centre of the state’s economic development since 1868. For as long as Queensland parliament has been sitting, we have been supporting Queensland businesses. The State Chamber has played a key role in Queensland’s history, drawing on a rich legacy of knowledge and experience.



Local merchants seeking representation of their interest to the British Colonial Government in Sydney established the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce.  

Brisbane Post Office in the 1800s.



The Queensland Employers Federation was established in response to organised labour unions across Australia.  

Brisbane tram in 1898, the Cairns to Kuranda Railway construction in 1890 and Herbert St in Allora, 1897.



The Queensland Chamber of Manufacturers was established in response to manufacturing activity growth in the 19th century.  



Employers Associations were also established in North Queensland, Central Queensland and Mackay given the decentralised state and strong regional economic centres.  

Engine House at the Ipswich Railway Workshops, c 1900


Tully, 1938: Cane farmer John Maher and D Jorgenson, one of the principals of Scholss and Co general merchants, Tully, escaped serious injury when a sugar mill loco crashed into a motor truck, in the main street of Tully in 1938. It was the fourth accident of a similar nature, and the danger of the tramline crossing was the subject of a very warm discussion at a meeting of the Tully Chamber of Commerce.

Vintage cars in Main Street, Tully, 1938, Bundaberg, 1965, apprentice working on diesel locomotive construction at English Electric Company, Rocklea, 11 July 1969



The Queensland Chamber of Manufacturers, Queensland Employers Federation, North and Central Queensland Employers Associations and Mackay Employers Federation merge to form Queensland Confederation of Industry. It combined advocacy and policy strengths with the established expertise of the state’s leading industrial relations advocates and advisors and became the first state-wide employer and business body. 

George Arthur Bayard was a drapery salesman who became a prominent businessman, creating the Bayards department store chain. In his later years, he was member of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce and Queensland Chamber of Manufacturers.

Bayards in 1981


Surfers Paradise came to the forefront of beach fashion when in the early 1950s a local retailer, Paula Stafford, had six models parade her two-piece French swim suits on the beach, attracting press photographers and newsreel cameras. Surfers Paradise became identified with the bikini, an association later capitalised on by the Chamber of Commerce with its Meter Maids who fed coins into council parking meters to keep tourists and shoppers in the town.

Surfers Paradise in 1966. Photo credit: www.archivessearch.qld.gov.au/items/ITM1771894



The Brisbane Chamber of Commerce and Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce merged with the Queensland Confederation of Industry, together named the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  



Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry relaunched as Commerce Queensland.  



Commerce Queensland relaunched as Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland. 



The ecoBiz program was established, supported by the Queensland Government, to increase business sustainability and help businesses reduce water, waste and energy use, increase efficiencies and save money. 



The state and national business community experienced among the most significant impacts in memory during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Chamber of Commerce, alongside the network of local, state, national and international chambers, worked to ensure businesses had the resources, support and information they needed to manage day-to-day and recover long-term. Advocacy efforts helped secure billions of dollars in support between 2020 and the following years of lockdowns, restrictions and vaccine mandates. 



An exciting new era in Queensland’s business community as CCIQ relaunched as Business Chamber Queensland - a new name, new brand and new services designed to ensure Queensland businesses have more opportunities to learn, connect and thrive.   

The new approach brings together the past and the future as we pay tribute to our 155-year history as the state business chamber while looking towards the opportunities ahead in Queensland.   

Left: CEO Heidi Cooper and Federal Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, Right: Ellen Fanning, Andrew Fraser, Royston Kent, Minister Meaghan Scanlon and CEO Heidi Copper.


Source: Australian Trade Union Archives, 2010 and historic photos thanks to the Queensland State Archives.


Our role today  



Leading where it matters 

Queensland is the best place in Australia to do business. We lead and speak up on major state-based and national issues to keep it that way. 


Providing advice you can count on 

Up to date with changes in legislation, attitudes and technology we can provide practical solutions to everyday operational issues. 


Expanding your world 

With decades-long experience, we can provide you with the practical support and up-to-the-minute knowledge to help you capitalise on local, national and international opportunities 


Keeping your business relevant, responsible and thriving 

Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword for us. Accelerated adoption of sustainable business practices will keep your business in front of the curve.   


Growing your network 

With events that bring together Queensland’s business leaders, we can share experiences and information on the major economic issues that affect us all. You’ll stay connected to one of your most important assets: your network. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Business Chamber Queensland respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners and custodians of the lands from across Queensland and the Torres Strait. We acknowledge the Jagera and Turrbal people as the Traditional Custodians of Meanjin (Brisbane), the lands where our office is located and the place we meet, work and learn. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.