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Media Release: Hon John Brumby AO Steps Down as ACBC National President

25 November 2019

At tomorrow’s AGM, the Hon John Brumby AO will step down from his role as ACBC National President, marking an end to his five-year tenure. Throughout Mr. Brumby’s stewardship of ACBC, Australia’s economic engagement with China has developed and matured with the relationship very much at the forefront of Australian business and society.

“Like all relationships, the Australia-China relationship can be tested from time to time. However, during my time at ACBC, I have observed the true value and complementarity of that relationship that has seen two-way trade and investment continue to grow – a testament to the inherent strength of the Australia-China economic relationship” said Mr Brumby.

“I have been particularly heartened to see how Australian firms have taken advantage of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which has enabled Australian firms to gain unique access to China’s emerging middle class with two-way trade now at more than $215 billion.

“This extraordinary level of two-way trade highlights that, in so many ways, China’s rise has been Australia’s good fortune.  Whether it's tourism, education, iron ore, beef, wool, wine or telecommunications, there is scarcely an Australian industry that hasn’t benefitted from our engagement with China.

“But for Australians, the even bigger benefits of this relationship have been the friendships, networks and connections built across business to business, university to university and people to people relationships.

“Despite tensions and strains in the Government to Government relationship, our business to business and people to people relationships have stood the test of time and I’m sure always will.”

Mr. Brumby has actively engaged and advocated for Australian business via China’s recent landmark initiatives, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the China International Import Expo. “There is no doubt that Australia’s future economic prosperity will remain closely aligned to China and it’s vital that the Australian business community remains engaged and focused on China’s rapidly evolving policy, technological and consumer-driven landscape to grasp the opportunities.”

Mr Brumby has also been a passionate advocate for the important role which sport and the arts can play in strengthening links between Australia and China. “As a lifelong supporter of the AFL, I have seen the power of sports diplomacy in action over the last three years in Shanghai. Now expanded as the Festival of Australia, I have seen first-hand how Australians can leverage their passion and professionalism for sport while raising the profile of Australian goods and services in China. This has also included diverse sporting codes such as the AFL, NBL, Tennis, Soccer and even Cricket.”

Mr Brumby continued to raise the profile of ACBC through regular media appearances, national newspaper opeds, public speeches, reports and expert panels.

“It has been a privilege to be involved with ACBC members and sponsors at the hundreds of ACBC events and activities that take place across Australia. Canberra Networking Day has been a particular highlight each year and I’ve enjoyed the close and fruitful partnership ACBC shares with all levels of Australian and Chinese government and business, including DFAT, Austrade, State & Territory Governments, CCPIT, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates across Australia.

“Throughout this time, I’ve been privileged to work with an outstanding National Board, and I would particularly like to acknowledge the huge contribution of National Vice President Sean Keenihan, Treasurer Tim Hogan-Doran and National CEO Helen Sawczak.

“While I am stepping down from my role as ACBC National President, I look forward to staying engaged in Australia-China relations through my various Board roles including as Chancellor of La Trobe University and National Chair of the Fred Hollows Foundation”.

The ACBC National Board thanks Mr Brumby for his visionary leadership of the organisation for the past five years which has been unifying and transformational and wishes him every success in his future endeavors.