Arvi Parbo

Statement by Business Council President Grant King and Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott

The business community today pays tribute to Sir Arvi Parbo, founding president of the Business Council of Australia and a giant of Australian public life.

Sir Arvi will be remembered not just for his monumental achievements in the business world but also for his leadership and integrity.

Sir Arvi led the creation of the Business Council in 1983 to build Australia’s first industry association devoted to advocating for policy in the broad national interest. In his first annual address to members Sir Arvi said that the council would be “committed to the principles of free enterprise and to making free enterprise work for the benefit of all Australians”, a principle which has guided the Business Council since.

Throughout the 1980s in his role as Business Council chair he was a champion of the wave of reform that helped unleash decades of continuous growth and greater opportunity for all Australians. Under Sir Arvi’s presidency the Business Council was one of the first groups to propose Australia’s enterprise bargaining system, which has helped deliver higher wages and better conditions for Australia’s workers.

After arriving in Australia as a refugee fleeing Estonia in 1949, Sir Arvi quickly rose through the ranks of the Western Mining Corporation before rising to chair some of Australia’s largest companies including BHP. Sir Arvi was one of our country’s strongest advocates for a thriving business sector, not only because he saw the opportunity successful businesses would afford Australians, but because he had lived it.  

On behalf of the Business Council of Australia and its members we extend our condolences to Sir Arvi’s family.