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Concerns over privatisation of Land Use Victoria

Property Law: 23 March 2019

Rob Bradley spoke to Judy Ann Steed on community radio 3MDR today on behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria on the subject of the proposed privatisation of Land Use Victoria or "LUV(the Office of Titles).

He said that the Institute and its members were concerned about

  • Maintaining the integrity of LUV in a privatised system
  • The lack of incentives for a monopoly provider to provide a quality service at a reasonable cost
  • The removal of a State guarantee of the Titles to everyone's homes
  • The independence of the Registrar of Titles

Rob noted that the LIV was not seeking to enter the philosophical debate about the relative merits of government vs private enterprise generally, but was concerned about the potential for an inferior service at an increased cost.

It was important, he said, to understand the political incentives: there are few votes in a government body raising revenue of $300 M each year, but if you sell that income stream, you can use the capital to buy or build something that is exciting and vote-catching. The important choice however, is how to balance that political expediency against the long-term benefits that might be lost in the process.

Rob also noted that LUV performs two different functions and that both functions need to be considered before any decision is made. The first is the automated, computerised, high volume process that enables Transfers of Land and Mortgages to be recorded on a database with minimal human intervention.

The second is the low volume, complex transactions requiring highly trained staff who possess technical abilities and knowledge such as approving plans of subdivision, adverse possession applications , easements, covenants and road issues. These require the exercise of judgements and often, discretions.  Part of this second group is the important function of maintaining historical records which can be vital in determining your rights and obligations as the owner of a particular property. There are concerns about the future performance of this second group of functions.

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