Land Title sale questioned
The SA Budget includes plans to sell the Lands Titles Office for up to $400 million.
South Australia’s budget papers are being released this week, dramatically cutting forecast budget surpluses to free up funds.
It includes a plan to privatise the Land Titles Office, which industry organisations are warning could lead to the exploitation of valuable private information.
The Public Service Association, the Law Society, the Institute of Surveyors, the Institute of Conveyancers and the Real Estate Institute have all argued against the privatisation.
They say the Lands Titles Office is already one of the most efficient government agencies, but the State Government is pushing ahead.
Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis says the Government is only outsourcing the “processor” of the titles, but this would still allow the successful bidder to commercialise the private data.
Real Estate Institute SA chief Greg Troughton said it is like “the fox being put in charge of the henhouse”.
“I wonder how many South Australians would be up in arms if they knew that their driver's licence details were about to be given to a private sector company for them to commercialise the data and make as much money out of it as possible,” he said.
“I think they'd be gravely concerned and I think that's what's going to be happening.”
The state’s Public Service Association says this is a Government that used to be opposed to privatisation.
“We have real concerns when it's privatised that that business and the information contained in the computer systems and the network may be compromised into the future,” association general secretary Nev Kitchin said.
“Ultimately [that] could render what is known as the 'indefeasibility of title' at risk ... that is the ownership of title to property whether you're buying or selling.”
Mr Koutsantonis says that “the State Government will provide a number of guarantees to protect the public interest and the integrity of the land titles system”.
However, these measures have not been detailed at meetings held by the Government to discuss the privatisation because they are “commercial in confidence”.