Privatisation of the Land and Property Information Office

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Ms TRISH DOYLE (Blue Mountains): I speak in debate on the Land and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Bill 2016.

The bill represents yet another instance of this conservative Government frantically rifling through pages of the public estate in search of something else it can flog off. 

The land titling and registration system is one of the oldest and most important bureaucratic institutions in the colony of New South Wales. It has stood since 1863, when the Torrens title system came into being, and has evolved from the historic granting of land title in convict days to the modern, precise and reliable system that all citizens now rely upon to track the transfer of real property ownership in this State.

Not only does it provide an essential public service and handle sensitive, valuable information on behalf of the citizens of this State, but also it returns a tidy profit to the coffers of the New South Wales Treasury.

It is a sad fact of life that under Casino Mike's dictatorship, whenever it is discovered that a public sector office is generating some small profit to the taxpayer—

Mr Lee Evans: Point of order: For several hours we have been listening to the ramblings of Labor members, but I will not accept the misuse of the Premier's title. Mr Assistant Speaker, I ask that you direct the member for Blue Mountains to use the Premier's correct title.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Order! I uphold the point of order. Members will refer to other members by their correct title.

Ms TRISH DOYLE: Whenever it is discovered that a public sector office is generating some small profit for the taxpayer, this Government will line up that public sector office with a buyer from among the Premier's mates in big business.

There is nothing this Government will not sell off in its ideological war against our public service and our public assets. It is in this Government's political DNA: The Liberal Party exists for no other purpose than to return our public assets to those whom the Premier and the Liberals believe to be their rightful owners, big business.

That is why stars of the Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC] and Liberal Party officials like Arthur Sinodinos were neck deep in attempts by Australian Water Holdings to privatise the State's water.

That is why the Premier and the Liberals are desperately looking for a buyer for the State's electricity network. That is why this Government has now turned its attention to the Land and Property Information office. These crooks in the Government are assisted in this place—

Mr Lee Evans: Point of order: If the member for Blue Mountains seeks to cast aspersions on the Government, she can go ahead but should do so outside the Chamber. I ask that you direct the member to return to the leave of the bill.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Order! I remind the member for Blue Mountains that she has been casting aspersions not only on members of this place but also on members of the other place. Members speaking in debate are not to create argument or refer to members of this place in that manner. I have asked the member to refer to members using their proper titles and not to cast aspersions on members as it is unparliamentary. I ask the member for Blue Mountains to withdraw her reference to the executive of the Government as "crooks".

Ms TRISH DOYLE: I withdraw my comments about the Government being crooks.

Mr Edmond Atalla: Point of order: May the member Blue Mountains have an extension of time?

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER: No, she may not.

Ms TRISH DOYLE: I wonder how many Nationals voters in country New South Wales would support the sale of a crucial public service and crucial public information that touches the lives of every home owner, landowner and farmer in this State to the private sector. Most Nationals voters would agree with Labor that this is an absurd proposal put forward by the Government and supported by the likes of the failed Deputy Premier and his gutless colleagues in The Nationals.

Like my Labor colleagues I reiterate for the benefit of members the significance and importance of the land titling system in New South Wales.

Land titling is an absolute and precise science and it is something that residents and investors in this State must have complete and enduring confidence in. Moreover, with Treasury's dependence on stamp duty it is in the Government's interest to ensure that this confidence is protected because every aspect of the State's economy relies upon it.

The Government is throwing caution to the wind in its pursuit of its ideological privatisation agenda.

Setting aside the issue of whether this is a bad idea or a terrible one, let us look at the money side of the Government's proposed equation.

Presently Land and Property Information brings in $170 million per annum. The privatisation period is 35 years and is supposed to bring in $1 billion. That is just $28.5 million per year. Already we are being ripped off by our own Government to the tune of $141 million per annum.

But it is worse than that. In order to fatten this pig for market the Government has recently increased fees by 25 per cent on most transactions.

This in turn means that a number of government agencies must pay more to access the information held by Land and Property Information.

For example, in 2015-16 New South Wales police requested approximately 580 title searches at $55 each, totalling $32,000.

That is a minor transfer from one government body to another. With the new fee structure the same 580 searches at $370 each will cost $215,000. That money will be a transfer of public dollars to a private operator.

It is a money-go-round with the New South Wales taxpayer the biggest loser at the end of the day.

The $1 billion that the privatisation exercise will raise will be given to Restart NSW. I believe it will be split 70 per cent to 30 per cent between city and country, with the city portion of the money earmarked for new sporting stadiums. What a waste of money.

What an absolute failure of political leadership in this State that we would sell off a profitable government agency at what amounts to an outright loss and then waste the meagre revenue that sale produces on a series of projects nobody wants or needs and that will provide nil benefit to vulnerable, needy people in this State.

Sadly, members of this Government are paralysed by the same incompetence and ideological obsessions as their colleagues in the Federal Parliament.

The Federal Government is wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on pet projects like the pointless marriage equality plebiscite instead of looking at where the money could be better spent.

Forgoing $170 million per annum is a huge blow to the State's budget and would pay for hundreds of new nurses in our overstretched hospitals or hundreds of teachers in our overcrowded schools.

Let us quickly have a look at what has been privatised: the electricity networks, the North West Rail Link and the Powerhouse Museum to developer mates.

The Government is evicting tenants from public housing at Millers Point, closing down women's shelters and transferring them to big charity, and gerrymandering local government elections.

The list goes on and on.

This is a disgraceful proposal from a disgraceful government.

This is bad legislation.

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