What has King’s Counsel accomplished in 19 years

What has Kings Counsel accomplished over 19 years


Since its inception in 1993, the biannual King’s Counsel newsletter has proudly showcased King & Co Property Consultants’ role as a good corporate citizen by placing a number of important issues on the public/political agenda for consideration, debate and, in many cases, implementation.

That being said, now seems as good a time as any to toot our horn a little by highlighting the articles from which these issues gained prominence. It also seems an appropriate occasion to remind ourselves and our readers how one company can have such a wide influence on public policy when it reinforces a lucid presentation of facts with good old fashioned nagging….and provides credibility by receiving no direct financial benefits in return.

For example, it’s generally recognised that a series of King’s Counsel articles, and the lobbying behind them, were, to a great measure, responsible for the current flurry of cross River tunnels and bridges, ala TransApex…an assumption that has been acknowledged by the RACQ and the Courier-Mail. On the other hand, our damning criticism of the Briztram Light Rail Project more than a decade ago helped to provide the intellectual basis for its demise.

Prior to these, we put forth arguments for a better road link between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, the result of which helped lead to the Pacific Motorway and the opening up of the corridor now encompassing the Yatala Enterprise Area. Similarly, our constant insistence that Brisbane was running out of serviced industrial land was said by some to have laid the groundwork for the AustraliaTradeCoast concept, the Western Corridor and other greenfields developments.

Likewise, there were articles relating to the Urban Renewal Task Force’s positive impact on New Farm, The Valley, Newstead and Bowen Hills, while features on the Mixed Use Development Act, as well as Volumetric Titling legislation, provided the legal underpinnings for the redevelopment of disused quarry sites and the Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) concept. As to the latter, we also conducted an in depth investigation for the Brisbane City Council of which railway stations in Brisbane’s industrial neighbourhoods would lend themselves to TOD usage. We then gave measured kudos to the Office of Urban Management as well as the intentions of the SEQ Regional Plan, and detailed the role of the former’s successor, the Urban Land Development Authority.

On a less optimistic note, the King’s Counsel offered relatively critical pieces on various planning shortfalls including the Brisbane’s Gateway Area Strategic Planning Study, the lacklustre precursor to the Australia TradeCoast; the Regional Transport Plan and its refusal to consider tunnels; profound flaws in the Integrated Planning Act 1997, as well as its stillborn predecessor, the Planning, Environment & Development Assessment Bill.

In addition, we highlighted limits to the West End/ Woolloongabba Local Area Plan, particularly vis a vis affordable housing and retail, and often lamented that there was no Federal and/or Statewide planning policy. Similarly, we constantly pushed (and still push) for more planning department staffing in order to speed up the development application process and practically begged, albeit unsuccessfully, for the BCC and State Governments to provide an assessment of how much industrial land existed in SEQ, either improved or potential.

Furthermore, and with some prescience considering the current economic climate, we tendered countless reasons why governments at all levels must wean themselves from balanced budget, low tax shortsidedness if South-East Queensland was ever going to build the infrastructure required for its ongoing economic success. In doing so, however, we cautioned against a reliance on Public Private Partnerships (PPP), which we mostly found (and find) as little more than dressed up pyramid schemes, all with a potential for blowing up in the face of any government that overuses them. Instead, we argued for government borrowing, either through Treasury, super funds, and/ or possibly via plebiscite driven Municipal Bonds, as is practiced in the US for 85% of its road funding. In any case, we believe our warnings went a long way towards curtailing PPP usage by the Queensland and BCC governments when compared to other states and  cities, albeit clearly not enough to prevent the financial debacles surrounding the River City Motorway and BrisConnections floats.

We also published guest commentators who touted the benefits of funding infrastructure by way of Betterment Charges on land appreciation or through the phasing out of the fuel subsidy, with the savings derived hypothecated for transport infrastructure. We’d like to think all the debate that ensued pressured the State Government to earmark $88 billion plus for future infrastructure, while at the same time commencing long overdue projects.

In the meantime, other experts advocated the dispersal of the State bureaucracy to regional cities, the time benefits of straightening the rail tracks to Sydney or how more water could be found by drilling bore holes up and down the coast.

More recently, the King’s Counsel promoted the idea of waterproofing SE Queensland by piping water to Brisbane from PNG or northern NSW, as well as arguing for the conversion of the Greenbank Military Training Area into an Inland Port/Intermodal Transport Hub, in anticipation of an Inland Rail linking the Ports of Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as replacing the Acacia Ridge marshaling yard, which is now approaching its use by date. Proudly, the Greenbank proposal was under consideration by Federal Government’s Infrastructure Australia as well as the Australian Rail Track Corporation, then earmarked by a Maunsell/Aecom study, commissioned by the Queensland Department of Transport, as one of two best long term solutions to the need for an Intermodal Transport Hub…a conclusion that put Greenbank in a better light than Bromelton or Purga, the State’s preferred, and more remote, options.

After that, and a few weeks before the 2007 Federal election, we gave equal space to both political parties in order to find out what each had on offer in relation to issues important to the industrial property market.

We then looked into ways to protect the environment by listing “61 ways developers can build sustainable industrial estates…and still make lots of money.” That issue also focussed on better ways to design our cities and towns via a guest commentary from Dr Phillip Day, a well respected planner, while another expert, Dr Phillip Laird, detailed the need to rectify the “antiquated” rail link from Brisbane to Sydney to Melbourne. We also asked a range of commercial and/or industrial developers to describe their philosophy in regards to sustainability and how they implemented it.

For the Spring 2009 issue we had Special Counsel Roseanne Meuring critique the Sustainable Planning Bill 2009 and whether it was a revolutionary or evolutionary, followed in Autumn 2010 by Dr Geoff Edwards’ look into the mooted federalisation of town planning. Also included was an article that patted an earlier King’s Counsel on the back for its role in creating the philosophical groundwork for cross river tunnels, variously thanking Campbell Newman, Jim Soorley, Tim Quinn, Graham Quirk, David Stewart, David Hinchliffe, Paul Lucas et al for carrying the ball to fruition. (but not always getting it right on the funding models, e.g. PPPs).

The next issue had Dr Phil Day wonder about the lawyerisation of the now legislated Sustainable

Integrated Planning Act 2009, followed by Dr Edwards’ reflection on planning post flood. We then outlined how the success of King & Co’s activities via the King’s Counsel proved that good corporate citizenship and good business are not mutually exclusive. Also included was our proposal that the State/City Governments reduce their land taxes and rates to reflect the post flood economic realities. Sadly we also offered our condolences to the family of Dr Day after his passing

Dr Edwards then wrote about how and why property professionals should be concerned about the natural environment in industrial suburbs, followed by our argument against the doom and gloom sorts who overlook how basically healthy our economy is.

The penultimate issue carried developer Garry McNamara’s complaint that the State Government’s introduced Infrastructure Fees will hamstring new industrial projects…an article that brought a personal (and positive) response from the Premier. Finally, the issue your reading will not only offer articles relevant to SEQ’s industrial property property market, but will include a fond farewell by its writer and/or editor, who, on turning 70, is retiring.

On our website you can find a list of all the articles that have appeared in the King’s Counsel over the last 19½ years. While some were written with clear advocacy in mind, others were only for general interest and had no great impact other than “just” being a good read. It also includes our regular market commentaries…ones that are widely cited by the press, trade publications and research organisations.