Bill Loughnan, a pre-eminent Queensland agribusiness lawyer for more than 40 years, was a champion of rural Queenslanders.
Bill’s passing on 7 October 2019 is a huge loss to his clients, colleagues and the many people he generously helped and mentored throughout his career.
After studying law at the University of Queensland, Bill joined Cannan & Petersen and quickly became a key member of their agricultural team. It was there he met Peter Kenny and began a successful business partnership and friendship based on the principles of the bush.
“When you’ve been in business with someone for 40 years and have remained friends for all that time, I think that says something,” Peter said.
Bill became a partner in 1979 at the age of 27. In 2002, he and Peter moved to Thynne + Macartney with their entire team where they felt they could better serve their rural client base.
During his career, Bill advised on some of the largest cattle property deals in Australian history.
“Bill looked after the big corporates and the big families, as well as working with a great many mum and dad operations, which were very close to his heart,” says Peter. “He will be remembered as the mover and shaker on the big issues, just as he will for training many of the up-and-coming young rural lawyers.”
For most of his legal career, Bill, his wife Stephanie and their family ran sheep and cattle on their properties “Arlington” and “Wongamere”.
Bill’s legacy in the agricultural sector is immense. For more than 20 years he served as the principal lawyer of the United Graziers Association (UGA) and was the lead lawyer in the amalgamation of the Cattleman’s Union, the Grain Growers Association and the UGA which formed AgForce, giving the Queensland agricultural sector the ability to speak with a united voice. He was instrumental in important policy and legislative developments in the history of Queensland agriculture.
Bill proposed and supported the firm’s visited office program to meet with clients face to face in their home towns of Longreach, Charleville and Roma, and later expanded the program to include Emerald and Rockhampton. His client base stretched the breadth of Queensland and spanned three and four generations of some families and stands testament to Bill’s dedication to the success of the practice.
“Bill was adamant that we make these scheduled visits, rain, hail or shine. To this day, we get to the airport peculiarly early as none of us wants to be the first to miss a flight on Bill’s enduring watch,” said Ari McCamley.
Bill helped numerous landholders navigate the negotiation of compensation agreements with mining and gas companies and the negotiation of Indigenous Land Use Agreements with native title claimants.
Bill was involved in the establishment of The Wetlands and Grasslands Foundation in 2000 and was one of its inaugural honorary directors. He was instrumental in publishing “A Legal Guide for Queensland Primary Producers” which is currently in its 4th edition. His generosity, both personally and as a key member of the leadership team at Thynne + Macartney, extended to many philanthropic ventures including the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Gallipoli Medical Research Fund.
Bill also gave his time generously to those who sought his guidance or advice. His contribution to the legal sector included his role as Senior Counsellor for the Queensland Law Society and as a mentor to the many lawyers who worked with Bill during his career, including Ari and Alex who now lead the Agribusiness practice at Thynne + Macartney with Peter.
In a December 2016 interview, Bill reflected on his career, articulating his deep love for the bush and its people:
“It’s the people that make it special. There are any number of families in the bush who were clients of our group before I became a lawyer and who, all going to plan, will continue to be clients when I am long since retired. People in the bush are the ‘salt of the earth’ – great clients to have. They become personal friends in many cases. Our group has numerous intergenerational clients. One family comes to mind where I’ve acted for four generations. The sense of personal satisfaction from such relationships surpasses any monetary rewards and makes this part of Australia, for me, the best place to live and work.”
– Bill Loughnan
Bill is sadly missed. Our thoughts are with Stephanie, Olivia, Matthew, Andrew and their families, as well as Bill’s friends in the bush.
As we head into next year and the next decade, we will do our best to continue the outstanding legacy of Bill Loughnan, our colleague and friend.