Sheed: stop sale

Shepparton News - Country News - - GRASSLAND CONFERENCE -

State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Suzanna Sheed has called on the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment to stop its pro­posed sale of the state’s Land Ti­tles Of­fice.

Speak­ing in par­lia­ment, Ms Sheed said the fate of Land Use Vic­to­ria was a mat­ter of pub­lic im­por­tance and called on Trea­surer Tim Pal­las to take all steps nec­es­sary to stop the sale.

Ms Sheed has since writ­ten to Mr Pal­las to for­mally out­line her con­cerns about the sale, which was qui­etly an­nounced in this year’s state bud­get.

Ms Sheed says the at­tempt to sell off the gov­ern­ment agency, which records own­er­ship of land across the state and re­tains pri­vate in­for­ma­tion about trans­ac­tions such as mort­gages, ti­tles, covenants, leases and ease­ments, is mis­guided and would pro­vide no long-term pub­lic ben­e­fit.

‘‘I have raised this is­sue as a mat­ter of pub­lic im­por­tance be­cause the gov­ern­ment is talk­ing about pri­vatis­ing one of the gov­ern­ment’s old­est and most re­spected busi­nesses,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘The Ti­tles Of­fice is well-used by in­dus­try bod­ies who rely on its data, and is recog­nised for its in­tegrity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

‘‘Not only that, the Ti­tles Of­fice makes a com­fort­able profit each year for the state of Vic­to­ria and to sell it off for a short-term cash wind­fall rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant lack of for­ward think­ing.’’

Ms Sheed said the pro­posed sale of the Ti­tles Of­fice had been called a ret­ro­grade step by the Law In­sti­tute of Vic­to­ria, while the sales in both NSW and South Aus­tralia at­tracted harsh crit­i­cism from key in­dus­try bod­ies such as the Pub­lic Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion, the In­sti­tute of Sur­vey­ors and the Real Es­tate In­sti­tute.

She said a sim­i­lar pro­posal by the United King­dom was aban­doned by the Bri­tish Gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing in­tense op­po­si­tion.

‘‘The UK’s com­pe­ti­tion watch­dog ex­plic­itly warned a pri­vately owned mo­nop­oly in such cir­cum­stances would not ben­e­fit the pub­lic — and I agree,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘The hand­ing over of highly sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion and the re­moval of gov­ern­ment over­sight has the po­ten­tial to com­pro­mise the se­cu­rity, ac­cu­racy and pri­vacy of im­por­tant data and cre­ates a sit­u­a­tion ripe for ex­ploita­tion.

‘‘The gov­ern­ment can say it will leg­is­late for such con­tin­gen­cies, but I say it sim­ply can­not guar­an­tee the in­tegrity of in­for­ma­tion to the high stan­dard it cur­rently does.’’

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