The Challenges Ahead for Australian Business

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July 2021
Australia has the lowest vaccination rate in the OECD, which explains why 18 months into the pandemic, COVID keeps sending our capital cities into snap lockdowns. Businesses across our two biggest states have been subjected to the most severe and extended fluctuations, suspensions, and interruptions, but no state has escaped completely.


Notwithstanding the recent stay-at-home orders that affected half of the Australian population, the economy has been booming. Just over a year ago, many of us were madly scenario planning our responses to the anticipated economic doom and gloom. To be sure, the shut-downs caused an economic slump that had to be addressed through stimulus. Now, however, the global economy is in full swing. Iron ore and oil prices are soaring, unemployment is plummeting, and indications are that stock markets will hit all-time highs this year.


However, whether you live in a country where the borders and the economy are re-opening, or in a country like Australia, there are a few rifts that businesses should watch in the year ahead:


The Tension between Supply and Demand:


Shortages are rife. Forget about pasta and toilet paper. Products as essential and as varied as microchips, timber, and almonds are in short supply, precisely when people want to buy more electronics, renovate their homes, or binge on gluten-free snacks. Logistics are also strained: in addition to one-off global bottlenecks like the Ever Given cargo ship in the Suez Canal, there is a global crisis in shipping container availability. Add in the lack of international passengers flights further suppressing available cargo space, and it is obvious why the costs of shipping goods between countries has quadrupled - or more. This impacts Australia severely as an island nation. Labour shortages are also being keenly felt in the hospitality, transport, and service sectors. And housing prices have soared, with rents likely to follow.


The Race between Vaccines and Variants:


With fewer than 1 in 10 Australians fully protected against the virus, our country is on a knife-edge, susceptible to new COVID strains, more rounds of closures and frustrated citizens who may make their voices heard at the ballot box. Without increases in the availability and delivery of the vaccine around the country, businesses remain exposed to risk and uncertainty. Once ample supply is available at convenient locations, Australia will begin to contend with the balance between the jabs and the jab-nots, as has happened in the United States.


The End of Financial Stimulus and Economic Support:


At some point, global COVID fiscal support must end – and, in fact, be reversed. Each time there is a new outbreak in Australia, it seems some additional stimulus is now expected/demanded. This will have to end eventually. And as First World central banks contemplate how to extricate themselves from the $10T in assets they bought up since the pandemic began, we may be seeing a sign of what is to come, in China of all places. The PRC, which did not experience economic shrinkage in 2020, has tightened credit policy in 2021, slowing its growth.


So Get Ready to Hunker Down:


The economic recovery has been exuberantly V-shaped in Australia, leaving the slump far behind in only a year. Perhaps over the next 12 months, most Australians will get vaccinated, businesses will have adjusted to the new demand cycles, and stimulus will be unwinding in a reasonable way. But then again, as the old Danish proverb goes, “Prediction is hazardous, especially about the future.”


Yours sincerely,

April Palmerlee, Chief Executive Officer

American Chamber of Commerce in Australia


We are delighted to welcome these new members and here are links to their websites:

Member Spotlight

AmCham is pleased to announce two new National Partners: KPMG and Norton Rose Fulbright. These firms and partnering with AmCham in meaningful and strategic ways across the country. If your firm is interested in finding out more, please contact .

Member Spotlight


Gabby Costigan MBE

Chief Executive Officer

BAE Systems Australia

Alison Deitz

Chief Executive Partner

Norton Rose Fulbright Australia


Stephen Conry AM

Chief Executive Officer Aus/NZ


Anthony Ryan

Chief Executive Officer



Justin Jamieson

Chairman of Partners, South Australia


Jim McDowell

Group Chief Executive Officer

Nova Group


Alison Kitchen

National Chairman

KPMG Australia

Iain Martin

Vice Chancellor

Deakin University

Nathan Rees

Head of External Affairs and Public Policy

MetLife Insurance Limited


Harlene Hayne ONZM

Vice Chancellor

Curtin University

Member Spotlight

With thanks for 16 years of service AmCham recognises Robyn Houghton upon her retirement


Robyn describes working with and for AmCham as the best time of her career, and a varied career it has been, in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide. From meeting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010, President Barack Obama in 2014, and Vice-President Joe Biden in 2016, to hosting Premiers and the business elite of Australia – Robyn has had her share of special and memorable experiences. Robyn was working at The University of Adelaide in 2005 and completing her MBA when a tap on the shoulder saw her appointed to head the AmCham operations in South Australia. And five years later, she reopened the Queensland office which had been shuttered a decade earlier. In both states, the event attendance under her leadership was the largest in AmCham’s history. More than 800 individuals learned about BHP's plans for Olympic Dam, while more than 700 Brisbane guests and over 500 Adelaide guests learned about mining expansion at events that Robyn organised and promoted.


After "retiring" in 2016, Robyn was asked back for "six weeks or so" in late 2017 to hold the fort while a new general manager was recruited. Eighteen months later she "retired" again. But not one to stay down for long, she was enticed back a few months later with the brief to guide the new generation of managers to formulate an events programme of which AmCham is proud.


Robyn now leaves us for a final time, believing AmCham is in the best shape ever under the current leadership. Despite the challenges the past year has offered, it will continue to be a force for change and significance in the Australian business community.

Member Spotlight

Laura Anderson

Chairman | OneGlobalVenture


is an International Company Director, Entrepreneur and Global Philanthropist.


Laura is a Governor and Board Member of the AmCham and has recently been appointed as Chair of the AmCham Future Industries Initiative.


Childhood dream job?



Favourite movie?

Born Free, Out of Africa, I Dream of Jeannie, Gilligan’s Island.


Favourite fictional character and why?

Galadriel from Lord of the Rings... The Power of Light...


If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Time Travel.


What historical event do you wish you were either a part of, or were able to experience?

Martin Luther King... I have a dream, JFK... Cuban Missile Crisis, Thomas Jefferson... Bill of Rights.


Driving force in your life?

Empowering the Future.


Most rewarding part about your job?



Who do you most admire?

April Palmerlee.


Something that your social media followers don’t know about you?

I love to meditate, walk the ocean beach and embrace yoga at my farm in Cape Schanck, Victoria, Australia.


Personal motto that helps you power through obstacles?

Lead, Follow or Please Step Out of the Way... “Opt-in”... You look at things and ask “why”, I look at things and ask “why not” (GBS).


Biggest roadblock in your career, and how were you able to overcome it?

Fear of failure/success/judgement... Looking fear straight in the eye... Trusting in your core essence and value system.


The biggest risk you took?

Staying the course... in spite of all adversity... because it was the right thing to do.


Proudest moment so far?

The birth and development of my children and immediate family members (Notnebs).


First line of your obituary?

She loved... purely, deeply, broadly.


Dream dinner companion?

Barack Obama. Nelson Mandela. Marie Curie.


Best advice you ever received?

Lead with your Heart, then your Head, then your Hands...


Animal that best matches your leadership style?



What is one hobby you would love to get into?

Singing, painting and many, many other things...


What book are you reading now?



If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?

Multi-lingual Linguist.


If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why?

Wisdom’s Journey.


If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?

Headspace, Apple Music and the App Store.


What’s your go-to productivity trick?

Just Do It.


What is the first holiday destination you are looking to visit once we can safely travel again?

Lewa in Kenya, Africa and anywhere else life’s journey takes me.

Company Spotlight

Collaboration among Abbvie, Biogen and Pfizer creates world's largest browsable resource linking rare protein-coding genetic variants to human health and disease



Earlier this month, access to the world’s largest browsable resource linking rare protein-coding genetic variants to human health and disease was launched through a genetic exome sequence analysis collaboration among AbbVie, Biogen Inc. and Pfizer. Managed by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the browser gives access to results from analyses of whole exome sequencing data from 300,000 UK Biobank research participants. These genetic data have been paired with detailed health information to create this browsable resource.


Network News

KPMG Australia appoints Andrew Yates as new CEO



KPMG Australia Chairman Alison Kitchen announced the Board had appointed Andrew Yates as its new CEO.


Andrew assumed the role on 1 July 2021, succeeding Gary Wingrove, who has retired from the Australian firm after an eight-year term as CEO.



Lendlease Digital


Lendlease Digital is back LIVE from Sydney to your screens on 8 September 2021 (8am - 5pm AEST).


Last year over 3000 attendees re-imagined our world, as Lendlease introduced a new era of life, work and play – moving from smart to autonomous. In this year's virtual summit, Lendlease is excited to show you the phenomenal progress made, and the opportunities for the world.


The future is Autonomous.


Supply chain resilience initiative grants program



This month, the Australian Government launched their $107 million Supply Chain Resilience Initiative Grants Program to equip Australia to respond to future supply chain disruptions.


For further information about the Australian Government Supply Chain Resilience Initiative Grants Program, please visit the Australian Government .


For assistance in determining your eligibility and support to submit a compelling application, please contact a Mazars advisor by .

Employee onboarding in the modern workplace



Effectively onboarding new employees can be a challenge, and this challenge is only heightened now that so many of our professional interactions are conducted online.


So how do you ensure your employee onboarding meets the demands of the modern workplace?


Webinar | Talent Mobility: How to stay compliant when everyone is everywhere

Globalization Partners


Wednesday, 21 July 2021 | 12PM AEST


Remote work is here to stay, and the concept of “the office” is quickly becoming outdated. Companies must either adapt or get left behind. But there are now new rules around compliance that must be mastered.


Join the Globalization Partners counsel to discuss the intricacies of remote work compliance. This webinar will be moderated by Charles Ferguson, General Manager of Globalization Partners Asia Pacific.


AmCham member secures funding to construct only US cobalt operations

Jervois Mining


Jervois Mining advises its Board has approved final construction of Jervois’ Idaho Cobalt Operations (ICO) in the US. ICO is situated approximately 40 km west of the town of Salmon in east-central part of the state of Idaho.


Final construction of ICO will include developing an underground mine over a period of 10 months starting in September 2021, which is scheduled to deliver first ore to an operational mill in July 2022.


Network News

Meeting Incentive at The Langham Melbourne

The Langham Melbourne


Meet at Melbourne’s premier luxury hotel, The Langham Melbourne, and receive 5% off the master bill and privileges of your choice.


For further information and bookings please

Be Unstoppable.

Grow your business with greater savings on international shipping with UPS.


Use promo code AMCHAM at checkout and receive up to 62% off normal rates when shipping from Australia to anywhere in the world!


Simply go to and click the Create a Shipment icon on the homepage.


This offer is valid until 31 December 2021 for eligible international export shipments from Australia using the following services where available: UPS Worldwide Express Plus™, UPS Worldwide Express™, UPS Worldwide Express Saver®, UPS Worldwide Expedited®, and/or UPS Worldwide Express Freight®. Business or personal shipping, parcels, documents, letters and palletized loads accepted. No account required. Cannot be combined with any other offer or existing pricing incentives.

Member Spotlight

AmCham Jobs Board


As a member benefit, AmCham members can now advertise vacancies on the AmCham .


To advertise please email the following information to :


Job title, location, link to the job advertisement (your preferred employment agency website or your company website) and the close date for applications.

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The American Chamber of Commerce in Australia

Website | ABN 62 000 361 633

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