South Australia to privatise Land Titles Office

The South Australian Government is moving ahead on a $1.6 billion deal to privatise its Lands Titles Office.

The Lands Titles Office hold the registry of the state's property titles, including details of who owns property, when it was purchased and the value of the property.

A private consortium, Land Services SA, will run the registry for the next 40 years – and is expected to be allowed to commercialise the data it holds.

Land Services SA consists of two investors - Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets - and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

The move comes after NSW sold its Land Titles Office for $2.6 billion in April to a consortium comprising First State Super, investment funds from Hastings Funds Management and the Royal Bank of Scotland Group's pension fund.

Concerns have been raised about the privacy implications of the sale.

The Public Service Association, Law Society, Institute of Surveyors, Institute of Conveyancers and SA Real Estate Institute have all opposed its privatisation.

Real Estate Institute chief Greg Troughton recently described the sale as being 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.”

SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the general public would not notice any difference.

“Land Services SA submitted a binding bid that compares favourably with other land registry transactions, including the recent commercialisation in New South Wales,” Mr Koutsantonis told Parliament.

An “innovation hub” will be established by Land Services SA in Adelaide as part of the deal, and will make a $35 million ICT investment in South Australia.

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