Tamworth experts disappointed by Land Titles sell-off

OPPOSED: William Quihampton with Tamworth surveyor Andrew Swane who is opposed to the land titles sell-off. Photo: Gareth Gardner 160317GGF04

OPPOSED: William Quihampton with Tamworth surveyor Andrew Swane who is opposed to the land titles sell-off. Photo: Gareth Gardner 160317GGF04

NEW England surveyors and solicitors have expressed their opposition to moves by the state government to privatise part of the NSW Land Titles Registry. 

In representations made to Local MPs, legal experts and surveying consultants have publicly slammed moves to lease the titling and registry functions of Land and Property Information (LPI) for 35 years to garner $2 billion for infrastructure.

However, some of those opposing the move argue that it is not viable.

Industry representatives say the integrity of the “world-class titles system” is at stake, and have called on Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall to come to the table.

A local surveyor believes residents could face delays to settle house purchases, along with a need for title insurance, which could compromise housing affordability and confusion of land boundary locations that could lead to court battles.

Others in the field have described the privatisation as “horrific.”

In a letter to Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, North West Law Society president Natalie Scanlon said the local legal fraternity was concerned by the move to sell-off the asset. 

"We have serious concerns about any model that constrains parliamentary oversight of the operations of the LPI," she wrote.

“We are calling on the government to abandon the privatisation in the interests of the integrity of the LPI and its long-term sustainability.”

Peter Baxter of Baxter Geo Consulting, described the Land Titles Registry as "profitable". “We don’t need to destroy a profitable and secure public service organisation for a couple of sporting stadiums," he said. "The government insists that it has undertaken a comprehensive assessment. I find this hard to believe.

“Only those who deal with it on a regular basis understand the importance and complexity of the work undertaken.

“The premiers claim that only administration staff is wrong.

“The Land Titles office employs highly-specialised people to process the information.

"The Land Titles Office is, and only ever should be a government-owned and operated monopoly.

“A private operator will only try and eliminate staff and cut down on certain work practices that they perceive as being unimportant."

Tamworth surveyor Andrew Swane, who is also the president of the Country Surveyors Association, voiced his concerns about the sell-off and said it was not in the public interest to do so.

"If this was the medical profession objecting to the privatisation of health services I doubt they would be brushed off as vested interests,” he said. 

“This is what professionals do. Yes we are in a profession to make a living, but we also have a strong sense of looking after the public interest.

"We are objecting to the privatisation because we have intimate knowledge of how the current system works and know that it is the best in the world.

The Leader has reached out to Kevin Anderson and Adam Marshall for comment.

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