|NSW Privatisation of Land & Property Information
Concern is mounting over New South Wales Premier Mike Baird’s desire to privatise the New South Wales Land and Property Information services. He is aiming for a multi-million dollar sale to support the building of sport stadiums. This is ironic as in the past there have been discussions to use value capture for such financing.
However now Baird seems to be heading in the other direction just as the role of big data offers so much potential for the public interest in terms of the geospatial analysis that groups like AURIN engage in. We need more transparency on property transactions at a cheaper cost. Instead, privatisation will deliver an added burden to those seeking to defend the public interest. In saying that, we must note the NSW government has delivered on an election pledge to make residential sales history free to the public.
Despite this, many public interest groups have aired their concern, including the Public Services Association of NSW:
“Currently, the Government provides insurance and security of property titles. But if LPI is sold to a private operator, individual owners may have to take out insurance to guard against unscrupulous property developers acquiring their land.”
The PSA lists a handy 13 shortfalls for any such privatisation. This policy perjogative is obviously an international trend with the UK narrowly avoiding the privatisation of its property titles office recently. However, the trend is sweeping though Canada’s states. It was also floated as an election-eve policy by the outgoing Liberal government here in Victoria (2014).
David Collyer wrote a prominent blog piece on the topic:
Accurately registering who owns which parcel of land matters – for individual financial security, for borrowing, even for finding the owners of lost dogs. Under our Torrens title system, government guarantees title against fraud and abuse without limitation.
This is a key reason why it is a core government function: “Each state and territory has a central register of all land in the state which shows the owner of the land. The land title is the official record.”