Carolyn Salam
Partner, Gold Coast
I help development, tourism industry and government clients in securing, facilitating and deciding project approvals. For more than 17 years I have been advising on development in high-growth local government areas.

Being based in Australia’s tourism capital, I also regularly advise on new theme park attractions and tourism infrastructure developments. I have specialist expertise in development and environmental assessment, compliance and statutory drafting. 

My team has a leading skills set in working with clients in designing and implementing user-friendly regulatory compliance systems that enable stakeholders to manage risk, meet their obligations, evidence how they’ve done that and communicate outcomes. This is complemented by our strength in delivering practical knowledge and skills training.

Key project involvement

  • Advised Logan City Council in relation to the preparation of the Logan Planning Scheme 2015 and local laws alignment
  • Advised various local governments on the implementation of environmental offsets under the Environmental Offsets Act 2014
  • Regularly advise local governments on the establishment or review of systemised approaches under planning and development legislation including infrastructure agreements, contributed asset bonding, planning and development certificates, works assessment, approval conditioning and development/environmental compliance investigation and enforcement
  • Acted in numerous court proceedings for revival of lapsed development approvals and changes to development approvals
  • Have been advising Village Roadshow Theme Parks for more than 15 years on master planning and new attractions at Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Paradise Country, Sea World and Sea World Resort
  • Advise various airport and port managers in relation to approval requirements and environmental compliance
  • Advised on the EIS process for various projects, including the Tugun Bypass (Commonwealth, Queensland and NSW jurisdictions), Gold Coast International Marine Precinct and the proposed Naturelink cableway
  • Advised on due diligence, environmental approvals and preparation of a new statutory land use plan under the Transport Infrastructure Act 1994 for the divestment of the Port of Brisbane
  • Advised on planning and environment issues involved in the regulated transfer of Wyaralong Dam under the South East Queensland Water (Restructuring) Act 2007
  • Have advised both applicants and local government on complex and contentious development applications that have been subject to Ministerial call-in. For example, advised the City of Gold Coast in the assessment of an application for 527 dwellings and artificial lake over 148ha on a highly-constrained site in the Currumbin Valley. Successfully acted for the Council in having the Planning & Environment Court dismiss a legal challenge by a community group. The Council’s approval of the development was upheld and reflected in the Minister’s approval upon call-in.
  • Acted for the City of Gold Coast in four submitters appeals (heard together) challenging Council’s approval of development on land owned by the National Trust of Queensland, including preliminary points of law challenging the validity of Council’s planning scheme, successfully defending Council and securing substantial costs orders in favour of Council
  • Acted for the City of Gold Coast in multiple successful enforcement proceedings in the Planning and Environment Court, Court of Appeal and prosecution in the Magistrates Court against a developer for unlawful clearing of 33 hectares and 10,000+ specimens of vegetation, securing early enforcement orders urgent erosion and sediment control measures, final revegetation orders and indemnity costs in favour of Council and fines.
  • Advised Gold Coast Water on the creation of the regulatory structure, development assessment regime and implementation of the international award-winning Pimpama Coomera Waterfuture Master Plan the largest integrated urban water cycle infrastructure management plan of its kind in Australia. 

Industry recognition and engagement

  • Finalist for Government Team of the Year in the 2017 Australian Law Awards (TBA)
  • Planning and Environment Partner of the Year – Lawyers Weekly 2016 Partner of the Year Awards
  • Urban Development Institute of Australia Women in Development Excellence Award winner for Outstanding Contribution by a Woman in Industry Support Services
  • Development industry advocate on legislation and policy as UDIA Queensland Planning & Environment Committee appointed representative
  • Sessional Associate Professor of Law and Environmental Law Course Coordinator at Bond University School of Law, sharing practical insight to equip students with skills and substance to navigate the environmental law system that affects business and industry, government and the community
  • Authored the LexisNexis Halsbury’s Laws of Australia Environmental Impact Assessment title for all Australia jurisdictions
  • Delivered an intensive course in statutory drafting for postgraduate students from eight countries at Nagoya University’s Program of Leading Graduate School in Cross-Border Legal Institution Design
  • Awarded a Centenary Scholarship by the Foundation for Young Australians and Commonwealth Government – completed postgraduate studies at the Graduate School of Public Service at NYU, Vermont Law School and a Master of Laws (Environmental Law) with Distinction at Australian National University under scholarship tenure
  • Various academic awards, including the Bond University Gold Medal in Law, the Queensland Law Society Prize, Women Lawyers Association of Queensland Una Prentice Prize, 8 academic law prizes and the Australian Institute of Management prize
  • Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition coach for many years, including coaching the Australian National Championship winning team and International Semi-Finalists in Washington DC
  •  Career prior to law in sports marketing for a national basketball league organisation, awarded the Darrel Chapman Memorial Prize and Australian Society of Sports Administrators Prize, with a degree in health science with a major in sports administration 


My team regularly publishes Developing InSight articles on the practical implications of the planning regime as well as conversation on other topical issues affecting development in Queensland.