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Lawyers for local government

LG Alert – Going, going, gone! Lands Services Group to be privatised (August 14th, 2017)

Lands Services SA, an investment venture between Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, has been selected as the exclusive provider for South Australia’s transactional land services for the next 40 years.

The Government will receive $1.605 billion from the upfront sale and continue to receive ongoing royalty streams from lands services fees and charges.

The controversial announcement follows months of speculation with many key industry groups including the Public Service Association, Law Society, Institute of Surveyors, Institute of Conveyancers and the Real Estate Institute opposed to privatisation.

Under the arrangement, Land Services SA will have exclusive rights to commercialise data from the land registry and property valuation services.  Just how that information is used by Land Services SA, in order to secure a return on the more than $1.6 billion investment, remains to be seen.

The details of the agreement with Land Services SA are confidential and we therefore await further detail as to precisely how the Government intends to preserve the safety and integrity of our land registration system and, for example,  whether the sale will lead to the introduction and need for title insurance (as has been the case in similar jurisdictions that have privatised lands services).

For now, the Government has said that:

  • there will be no change to the Torrens Title system and the Government will continue to guarantee indefeasibility of title;
  • the Government continues to retain ownership of titling and valuation data and associated intellectual property;
  • the Registrar-General, Valuer-General and Surveyor-General continue as statutory officers;
  • the Government will continue to regulate fees and charges and fee increases will be limited to those of the standard annual increases currently in operation.

In addition it appears for now that Lands Services Group services such as SAILIS will continue to operate as they currently do.  However Land Services SA has announced that it will invest heavily in “electronically-delivered services” so expect there to be sweeping changes into the future.  We might also expect that users may soon have to pay for some of the free and frequently used products and searches within SAILIS.

We will continue to monitor this space as more details are released in the coming months as the transition takes place.

For more information contact Chris Woodard on 8113 7112 or cwoodard@kelledyjones.com.au