“No real advantage to city address”: 123-year-old business leaves Queen St for the suburbs

Kaylah Joelle Baker

The Commonwealth Key and Property Register has remained a company people and businesses can rely on since 1900, and now, after being located in the Melbourne CBD since 1908, it is time to move on. 

Founded in Sydney prior to Federation, the company has been able to keep its name while continuing to run as a private non-government organisation, with the sole purpose of being a loyal and honest service people can depend on. 

“Our service provides a person who carries important keys, such as business safe and master keys, or expensive electronic car keys, with an identification tag they can put on their keys for only $25 a year,” Commonwealth Key managing director Bryan Wheeler said.

“On the key label is a registered number on one side and on the other side are instructions for the finder to hand the keys to the nearest police station for a $50 reward.”

The company’s relationship with the police means it will then receive a call regarding the registered number on the tag, and the name and address of the finder who will receive the monetary reward.

Someone from Commonwealth Key will then contact the owner to let them know their keys have been found and call the police back with only the name of the person collecting the keys, with no more personal details being shared. 


While seeming to be a simple service, it is one that has continued to successfully serve many of the business’s larger clients, such as the MCG and Village Cinemas, both of which have been on board for many years.


It has also seen the company record a 90 per cent success rate in returning lost keys to their rightful owners.

As a proud owner of the business since 1971, Mr Wheeler and his wife also expanded into creating the Keypass Photo ID in 1989, allowing people to have another registered ID other than a driver’s licence or passport when going into licensed venues. 

Despite selling off that part of the business to Australia Post more than five years ago, it was an example of the company’s strong reputation and legacy Australia-wide. 

Now after its dedication to the CBD, and being one of its more longest-standing businesses, its strong ties to Queen St won’t stop the company from believing better options lie beyond the 3000 postcode. 

“When I took over the business, having the Queen St address was prestigious and useful, but now there is no real advantage for us to stay in the city over the suburbs. The city address used to mean something to people, and these days it means nothing,” Mr Wheeler said. 


“I believe the City of Melbourne could have a lot more say in understanding what it takes to make a business run, but the biggest problem is that many people involved in making the decisions don’t talk to people who are in the game and experiencing it.”


“They can do, and should be, doing a lot more to encourage businesses to come back.”

Citing the current difficulties of driving and expensive parking in a city determined to minimise its convenience, Mr Wheeler is using his own business advice of “having an open mind and being able to see the big picture” to realise the “tremendous advantage” of the suburbs.

And he said he was not the only one thinking the same after dealing with thousands of businesses who were in agreement. 

“Talk to anybody who is in business and you will hear the same stuff, and after 50-plus years of being in business in the city, I see what is going on and it stinks,” Mr Wheeler said. 

But never one to dwell too long on the negatives, he confidently assures that Commonwealth Key will continue to be a service people and businesses can trust, no matter where it is located.

“People who lose keys are not stupid, they are normal, because when you are leading a busy life, you misplace things – it’s human nature. So, when it happens, it is great knowing you have your keys protected and you can get them back,” Mr Wheeler said. 

“If you believe in what you are doing and are enthusiastic and persist, you will never fail. And this is the secret to the Commonwealth Key.”

The Commonwealth Key and Property Register will move on to its new Ringwood location come the end of November. •

For more information: comkey.com.au

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