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.’’