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News & opinion

5 MAR 2019

A short history of RICS in Australasia

As we look forward to celebrating 150 years of RICS with a 150 dinner in May, we explore a short history of RICS in Australasia. Thank you to the RICS professionals who have helped us piece together the history so far. Can you fill in any gaps? Let us know via the link at the bottom of this article.

1947 – Ronald Collier FRICS

Ronald Collier was one of the first Chartered Surveyors in Sydney – born in England, he qualified and worked in London.

He migrated to Tasmania, Australia in 1947 after marrying an Australian.

Ronald made a name for himself in 1947 in Tasmania after the Hydro-Electric Commission wanted to purchase the land of a farmer whom Ronald represented.

Ronald established that the land was worth a great deal more to the acquiring party than the farmer. He went to court arguing that, because of this, they should pay more than its worth. The judge ruled that the acquiring party should pay the farmer three times the actual value of the land. This was the first time this had happened and set a precedent in land valuation.

1950s – the birth of an industry

In the early 1950s, there wasn’t much of a property industry in Australia.

The Australian public generally considered home ownership as the only worthwhile investment, thus there was virtually no investment in property of any other kind. There were no leases, only annual agreements or longer in the case of retail. Vacant land in the city was valued per foot frontage. The residential valuation system was not used.

Jones Lang Wootton

In London, Jones Lang Wootton was looking for a way into the seemingly untouched Australian market, and Ronald Collier provided it. Ronald became partner at JLW and now, with reputable RICS in the market, overseas investment was able to flow into Australia and the industry was born.

There is no doubt that Jones Lang Wootton (& Sons as it was then) hugely influenced the future shape of the Australian property industry and particularly the speed of its development.

One of the London partners, Noel Taylor, saw the potential in Australia and applied his entire energy to promoting the Australian opportunity to the extraordinary client base of the UK firm. This included all the notable London institutions, investors and banks of the era.

The RICS connection was critical. The training traditionally received in the UK was broader and deeper than anywhere in the world. By contrast, perhaps understandably, the Australian profession was narrow and government service dominated.


Alongside Ronald in JLW sat Jimmy Crockett MC FRICS and Barrie Funnell FRICS, both in Melbourne; John Robinson FRICS, Norman Hughes, and two young boys whom Ronald co-sponsored as new partners in 1965 – Robert McCuaig FRICS and Frank Charnock FRICS. This team worked to build the real estate industry in Australia.

Our 150th anniversary has been an opportunity to reflect on all that our profession has achieved. I’m delighted to look back at the Chartered Surveyor pioneers who laid the foundations in Australasia, while we also look ahead to the continuing importance of the profession. Since the 1950s, Chartered Surveyors have left a distinctive and lasting mark on the industry in Australasia.

Chris Nicholl FRICS, Managing Director Southeast Asia, Australasia, Japan, RICS

1970s-80s – expansion

The industry continued to expand, with more and more companies and investment funds becoming established in Australia:

  • CBRE
  • DTZ which later became Cushman & Wakefield
  • Chesterton which later became Transfield
  • Savills
  • Lendlease – found their way into the region and became quickly established.

1999 – agenda for change

A group consisting of Martin Fisher FRICS, the first RICS Chairman, David Parker FRICS and Clive Warren FRICS, formed a volunteer committee to bring about change to RICS in Australasia.

This group contacted all the regions, including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Martin met with Ray Lay, RICS President at the time, to discuss the impetus behind an agenda for change.

On 14 May 1999, a group with representation from each of the regions around Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji met with the Ray Lay to put together the structure for the first truly international RICS office outside of Europe. The only other office outside of the U.K was in Brussels, to serve the European Union.

As a result of this meeting, John Coward was employed as the first RICS full-time employee in Australia and housed in a serviced office space in Chifley Square.

Not long after the establishment of the RICS Australasian office Darren Jensen was appointed as Managing Director and Nick Hudson was sent out from the UK as an RICS ‘Black Box’.

It was under the stewardship of Kaye Herald, who was Managing Director for RICS between 2005-2014, where RICS started to change from a group of volunteer committees to an international organisation.

Can you fill in any gaps?

Thank you to Robert McCuaig, Kaye Herald, Pip Comport, Martin Fisher and Frank Charnock who have helped us to piece together this history.

Can you fill in any further gaps?

Contact us


Lifetime Achievement Award

We have celebrated the contributions of the following Chartered Surveyors through our Lifetime Achievement Awards in Australia and New Zealand:

  • 2018: Alan McMahon FRICS and Paul Healy FRICS
  • 2017: Professor Deborah Levy FRICS 
  • 2016: John Cameron FRICS, Mike O'Shea FRICS and Mike Steur FRICS.