Initial membership included some of Melbourne’s most visionary business people including stockbroker J.B. Were, and the Chamber’s founding President was merchant and politician William Westgarth. The Melbourne Chamber has consistently advocated for free trade and through the power and influence of its members, has been well positioned to play an active role in political life.
“From that year, 1851, the Chamber grew in membership and importance, and played a vital part in the business activities of Melbourne.”
The Argus 19.12.1934
The Melbourne Chamber of Commerce was established as the gold rush transformed the Australian economy. In 1888, the Chamber took up residence in the very first brick house built in Melbourne, at the corner of William Street and Flinders Lane.
The mission of the Melbourne Chamber was to represent the best interests of business as well as to arbitrate mercantile disputes and represent the business community at the time, which included accountants, bankers, financiers, importers, shipping owners and brokers.
From that very first evening in the ‘counting house’, the Melbourne Chamber has been invitation only, with an influential membership base that has represented the city’s key players in the advancement of Melbourne as a leading international economy.
The Melbourne Chamber has exerted influence at the highest levels – petitioning Queen Victoria in 1865 over customs duties; championing improvements to Melbourne’s rivers and harbours to improve commercial activities and it was also an early supporter of the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia as a Federation of Colonies in 1901.
The Melbourne Chamber of Commerce was also an important supporter of the establishment of the Chambers of Commerce of the Commonwealth, which changed to the State Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1986 and in 1991 became the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) and recently rebranded to Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In July 2013, the historic Melbourne Chamber of Commerce brand was reintroduced as a premium offer to address the contemporary needs of medium to large organisations. View the current members of the MCC.