Queensland Law Society today voiced grave concerns over the Government’s proposed plan to sell off the publicly owned Queensland Titles Registry for an estimated $4 billion.
QLS President Luke Murphy said the proposed shift of the Titles Registry to the Government’s own Queensland Future Fund could jeopardise public confidence in the security of land ownership registration throughout the state.
“QLS has always supported the Queensland Titles Registry remaining in public hands as a vital service to the Queensland public,” Mr Murphy said.
“The Titles Registry is the safeguard of the integrity of land ownership for all Queenslanders as registration of title gives legal ownership under our Torrens system.”
The Torrens system is a land registration and transfer system in which a state creates and maintains a register of land holdings, which serves as the conclusive evidence of the person recorded on the register as the owner.
QLS’s concerns were raised following yesterday’s announcement by Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick on the state’s dire fiscal position in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic and the Government’s decision to “transfer” the Titles Office to ownership by the Queensland Future Fund.
“The transfer of the Titles Registry will not affect the working conditions or entitlements of public servants employed there,” Mr Dick said.
“While other states have sold off their registries, Queensland will keep ours in public hands, in a way that ensures its contribution to offsetting debt is recognised by ratings agencies.
“We will commence consultation immediately on the best way to transition the Titles Registry.”
Mr Murphy said QLS had not been consulted on the issue and it had come as a surprise.
QLS is expected to voice its apprehension to the decision directly with the Government in coming days, with Mr Murphy saying: “We have watched as other states who have sold or licenced their titles registries.
“This has justifiably met significant resistance from the legal professions in those jurisdictions, as it will do here in Queensland.
“The considerable data about land and individuals held by the Titles Office must continue to be held securely for the benefit of the public.”
He said the Society looked forward to seeing the details and the opportunity to discuss the Government’s proposal with it before any so-called “transfer”.