Land and Property Information (LPINSW) was formed in July 2000 (1) as a major business unit of the Department of Information Technology and Management. The agency was a New South Wales State Government Business Enterprise providing land, property and valuation information and services that were previously provided by the Land Titles Office, the Surveyor General’s Department, the Valuer General's Department and the Land Information Centre.
LPINSW's Services included deeds and parcel-based land registration; land title consultancy; topographic and cadastral mapping; surveying; spatial information; cartography; aerial photography; international land information training and consultancy; remote sensing; and land valuations for rating and taxation.
Initially three major statutory officers were the nucleus of the agency. These were the Registrar General, Surveyor General and Valuer General.
The Registrar General was responsible for
(a) setting and auditing quality standards consistent with the requirements of the Real Property Act, 1900 and associated legislation;
(b) contributing to the development of the automated titling and survey systems operating within LPINSW;
(c) approving the determination of boundaries under Part 14A Real Property Act 1900; and
(d) approving the settlement of claims against the Torrens Assurance Fund.
The Surveyor General was responsible for a business unit known as the Land Information Centre that dealt with matters relating to survey plans and surveying in New South Wales including:
(a) ensuring the establishment and maintenance of the State Control Survey and related Geodetic networks;
(b) establishing and maintaining standards including survey practice; the Geocentric Datum of Australian and the verification of length within NSW
(c) chairmanship of the Geographical Names Board and Board of Surveyors; and
(d) acting as a Commissioner for the redistribution of electorates.
The Valuer General was responsible for land valuation in NSW including
(a) entering into, managing and monitoring valuation service contracts;
(b) establishing and maintaining the valuation role and valuation databases;
(c) ensuring the provision of land valuations throughout the State of New South Wales including the determination of compensation when property is acquired by Government to its agencies; and
(d) handling land valuation objections and appeals.
The Registrar General, Surveyor General and Valuer General also
(a) provided advice to government on land related matters;
(b) were responsible for policy formulation;
(c) assisted in maintaining the necessary legislative framework for land titling, conveyancing, property development and land valuation; and
(d) liaising and consulting with professional industry groups. (2)
In its second year of operation the major strategy was to restructure the agency in order to fully integrate its functions and services. Following the restructure the senior officers were as follows:
Divisional Manager Information Sourcing;
Divisional Manager Information Systems;
Divisional Manager Production and Business Development; and
Divisional Manager Titling and Registration Services.
The Information Sourcing Division located and verified information for inclusion in LPINSW’s databases. The Division was staffed by valuers, surveyors, land officers and administrative staff situated in the agency's two major offices in Sydney and at Bathurst and more than 20 regional offices throughout the State. The main responsibilities of the Division were providing valuation and survey services and maintaining topographic and cadastral data.
The valuation services conducted by the Division included
a planned program of re-valuing land in local government areas;
special valuation for the Office of State Revenue for land tax purposes;
making determinations for owners whose land was compulsorily acquired in accordance with the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.
The survey services carried out by the Division included:
Monitoring compliance with the Surveyors (Practice) Regulation 2001;
Maintaining the state control survey network;
Carrying out field investigations in relation to boundary determinations;
Setting and monitoring technical standards for boundaries defined by Mean High Water Mark;
Special projects e.g. in 2001/2002 surveying oyster and aquaculture leases and relocating the original markings of the borders between NSW and Queensland.
The agency maintained the Digital Topographic Database that contained digital data from the State topographical map series and the ongoing program of aerial photography. The database was arranged according to six major themes: transport; hydrography; Habitation; Utility; Landform; and Land Cover. The production of maps also continued. A Digital Cadastral Database was also maintained. By June 2002 the database included data in relation to almost three million parcels of land representing the legal framework of land ownership in NSW. The data continued to be updated and improved and new plans prepared. Special projects were undertaken and training given to those undertaking cadastral data collection.
The Information Systems Division developed online service delivery for the benefit of other government agencies and external clients. Services available included searching title ownership and the valuation data. The Division managed an ongoing program of system development that by June 2002 included
an Integrated Property Warehouse that would centralise data regarding land management and usage of across the various agency responsibilities;
electronic lodgement of plans;
electronic lodgement and automatic registration of dealings;
a central register of restrictions and;
a directory of cadastral records.
The Production and Business Development Division was responsible for developing markets for the products of Land and Property Information NSW determining initiatives in service and systems improvement planning and delivery of projects and mass production.
The role of the Titling and Registry Services Division was to examine and register new plans of subdivision and create land titles of lots in new plans and to examine and record dealings in the Torrens title. (3)
On 2 April 2003 the Department of Information Technology and Management was abolished and LPINSW transferred to the Department of Lands [III] where it became known as The Land and Property Information Division while continuing to operate as a Government Trading Enterprise with essentially the same structure. (4)
The role of the LPI Advisory Group was “to give counsel, not govern, on issues regarding LPI’s goals, oversee strategic plans and review LPI’s progress towards attaining goals”. In mid-2004, the LPI Advisory Group consisted of seven people including: the Chairperson; the Director General of the Department; and “three external counsellors” who had “expertise in financial management, business development and property information”. (5)
The General Manager, as Chief Executive Officer of LPI, made “all choices consistent with the policy defined by the Director General and” had “cumulative accountability for the performance of all staff and for compliance with executive limitations”. (6)
In October 2003, the Valuation Services Unit was separated from Information Sourcing and created as a Division to “coincide with the appointment of a new Chief Valuer”. The Chief Valuer was “responsible for the management of the division and providing services under the Service Level Agreement between the General Manager, Land and Property Information and the Valuer-General”. (7)
The valuation services conducted by the Division included:
Valuing land in local government areas;
Special valuation for the Office of State Revenue for land tax purposes;
Making determinations for owners whose land was compulsorily acquired in accordance with the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991;
Processing objections by land owners, under the Valuation of Land Act 1916, to land values and other information shown on notices of valuation; and
Maintaining the Register of Land Values on behalf of the Valuer General. (8)
By mid-2005, the Information Management Division (formerly Information Systems) was responsible for directing and managing key information management business related projects. Other activities of the Division included: “managing all aspects of LPI’s acquisition of IT services, and attendant Service Level Agreements; managing product management and product development roles within LPI; determining the strategic direction, and implementation, of LPI’s data conversion activities; providing strategic advice on electronic conveyancing; and managing electronic communication channel development”. (9)
One of the key initiatives for the Division was the Torrens System Conversion project which commenced in December 2004. The “essential feature of the Torrens System” was “a State guaranteed title, proved by one document, which” could “be relied upon by anyone dealing with land, and for which conveyancing procedures” were “simpler and less costly. Accordingly, successive Governments” had “pursued a policy of converting all land to the automated Torrens System”. The purpose of the project was to complete the conversion of “15,000 Old System parcels and 66,000 manual titles” to the Integrated Titling System (ITS). By mid-2005, “7,497 Old System and Manual Torrens Title parcels” had been converted. (10)
In March 2007, the transfer of Property Valuation Services from the Department of Commerce resulted in the restructure of the Valuations Services Division. The restructure involved the establishment of a “Compensation and Special Valuations (CSV) group”, which was a “self-funded part of Valuation Services”. CSV provided “a wide range of independent property valuation services to state and local government agencies including valuations to assist agencies with statutory reporting obligations and management of assets including the purchase, sale, and rental of public property”. The group also carried out and managed “determinations of compensation in accordance with” the “Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 on behalf of the Valuer General”. In 2007, “the group completed a revaluation of the Crown leasehold assets worth in excess of $6 billion”. (11)
By mid-2007, the Emergency Information Coordination Unit was aligned with LPI. The Unit had been established in February 2003, “to urgently develop the spatial information capability required for the recovery from an event such as September 11”. Its role had been expanded in 2004 “to meet emergency services organisations requirements for additional geospatial information in extreme incidents such as terrorist acts, significant critical infrastructure failures, major evacuations, or large natural disasters”. The Unit stored the spatial information it collected from local government, state and federal government agencies and private authorities, for the purpose of supplying emergency services and their support agencies, in the Emergency Services Spatial Information Library (ESSIL), a large data-warehouse. (12) By mid-2008, the alignment of the Unit in the departmental structure had altered to the Corporate Services Cluster. However, the Unit continued to coordinate with LPINSW as part of its activities. (13)
The Valuation Services Division continued to be restructured in 2007 – 2008 in order to “develop a more effective and sustainable structure for the future”. The restructure included the: implementation of a Valuation Audit, Compensation and Special Valuations Program; implementation of a centralised structure for the Objections and Appeals group located in Bathurst; review and restructure of Contracts and Business Administration, and Land Data Management. (14)
By mid-2009, the Product and Business Development and Information Management Divisions appear to have been combined to form the Land and Property Products and Services Division. The Division was responsible for managing “LPI operations relating to titling and valuation data services, property information service delivery, graphic services and spatial data sales”. (15)
In 2008 – 2009, LPI had “invested further in improving land information systems and enhancing and developing electronic service delivery capabilities”. New projects included “the NSW Surface Model Improvement Project, utilising Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to complement advances already achieved through the acquisition of an aerial digital camera to capture high quality digital imagery”. Ongoing projects included: development of a National Electronic Conveyancing System; electronic plan lodgement project; conversion of Crown parcels; conservation and digitisation of historical plans, aerial photography and the old form Torrens title register; upgrade of rural addresses; development of echannel services; government property interests system expansion; and Lands’ spatial data infrastructure consolidation. (16)
These activities represented the aims and objectives LPI had “been progressively implementing over the last eight years, which” concentrated on “improving its business systems by”: linking LPI’s data sets, in particular spatial and textual data sets; automating manual systems; increasing the delivery of data via the web; converting paper, microfilm and photographic data into digital formats; improving data quality; and utilising the latest technologies as they became cost effective. (17)
From 1 July 2009, when the Department of Lands [III] was abolished Land and Property Information (LPINSW) became a branch of the Land and Property Management Authority, which was governed by a Chief Executive. The structure and functions of the LPI Division were unaltered. (18) The LPI Advisory Group however, appears to have been disbanded by mid-2010. (19)
From 4 April 2011, when the Land and Property Management Authority was abolished Land and Property Information (LPINSW) became a branch of the Department of Finance and Services. (20)
On 23 April 2014, an administrative change resulted in the renaming of the Department of Finance and Services and Land and Property Information (LPINSW) became a branch of the Office of Finance and Services, a Public Executive Agency related to the Treasury. The Office was governed by a Chief Executive. (21)
On 1 July 2015, a further administrative change resulted in the renaming of the Office of Finance and Services and Land and Property Information (LPINSW) became a branch of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI). The Department was governed by a Secretary. (22)
In September 2015, “the NSW Treasury launched a comprehensive scoping study to investigate future options for Land & Property Information (LPI)”. As a result of the recommendations of the study, the NSW Government announced on 20 May 2016 that it “would proceed with a 35-year long-term concession” for “the management of the titling and registry services business of LPI”. The NSW Government also announced that “a newly created regulator” would “monitor and enforce the operator's performance in respect of defined service levels, KPIs and the security of the data”. (23)
Also as a result of the scoping study, the NSW Government had concluded that there was “opportunity to provide more benefit to the State if the Titling and Registry Services (TRS), Valuation Services and Spatial Services units of LPI” were “separated and integrated into DFSI”, particularly as with “advances in technology, many manual processes” were “now digital” and there were channels “to ensure continued information sharing between the existing LPI units, without requiring the units to be grouped together as one division”. (24)
On 1 July 2016, Land and Property Information (LPINSW) was effectively abolished upon its separation into five discrete business units, which were integrated into DFSI. Valuation Services “moved to Property and Advisory Group” and “Spatial Services moved to Government and Corporate Services and then to ICT and Digital Government”. The Office of the Registrar General (ORG) was created within the Better Regulation Division, and assumed the regulatory functions of Titling and Registry Services, which moved into the Customer Services Division. The Office of the Valuer General remained a separate unit reporting to Parliament and the Secretary of DFSI. (25)
On 13 September 2016, the NSW Government announced that the private sector was to be “invited to operate the administration of the titling and registry business of Land and Property Information (LPI)” by means of legislation. On 28 September 2016, the Land and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Act 2016 (Act No.46, 2016) was assented to, and partly proclaimed to commence on the assent date. The part of the Act, which amended other legislation, was proclaimed to commence on 19 May 2017. (26)
The object of the Act was to “authorise and facilitate the grant of a concession (the authorised concession) to a private sector entity to provide the services currently provided by the Registrar-General in the exercise of the Registrar-General’s titling and registry functions”. The Act also provided for: the transfer of the assets, rights and liabilities in the exercise of those functions, to the authorised operator for a maximum period of 35 years and the re-vesting of those assets, rights and liabilities “on termination of the authorised concession”; “arrangements for the transfer of public sector staff to employment by the new operator under the authorised concession”; “step-in powers of the portfolio Minister to take control of the authorised operator’s business if necessary to protect the integrity of the Register under the Real Property Act 1900 and registers under the Conveyancing Act 1919”; “amendments to the Real Property Act 1900 and other Acts to facilitate and support the authorised concession”. (27)
On 26 April 2017, the NSW Government announced that the Australian Registry Investments consortium was the new Concession Operator. (28)
1. From Land and Property Information NSW website http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/about/whatwedo.html. (accessed 26 February 2001).
2. Department of Information Technology and Management Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 2002, p.26.
3. Ibid., pp.22-26.
4. Department of Lands, Annual report for the year ended 30 June 2003, pp.20-32.
5. Ibid., p.7; Department of Information Technology and Management Annual Report 2001 - 2002, op.cit., pp.20, 30; Department of Lands Annual Report 2003-2004, pp.9, 21.
6. Department of Lands Annual Report 2002-2003, p.7.
7. Department of Lands Annual Report 2003-2004, pp.21-22, 34.
8. Ibid., p.34.
9. Ibid., pp.21-22, 26; Department of Lands Annual Report 2002-2003, op.cit., pp.19-24; Department of Information Technology and Management Annual Report 2001-2002, op.cit., p.22; Department of Lands Annual Report 2004-2005, pp.35-36, 40.
10. Department of Lands Annual Report 2004-2005, pp.27, 40-41. Note: An explanation of the Land Title Systems in New South Wales is located in Land and Property Information, Department of Finance and Services, Torrens Title Information and Search Guide, Land and Property Information, Sydney, March 2013, pp.5 - 7 from the Land and Property Information Website, http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/150707/Torrens_title_information.pdf (accessed 21 October 2016).
11. Department of Lands Annual Report 2006-2007, pp.4, 41; Department of Commerce Annual Report 2006 - 2007, pp.1, 58, 66, 99-100.
12. Department of Lands Annual Report 2006-2007, pp.25, 42; Department of Lands Annual Report 2005-2006, pp.22, 54.
13. Department of Lands Annual Report 2007-2008, pp.28, 44; Department of Lands Annual Report 2008-2009, pp.9, 11, 29-30, 131; Land and Property Management Authority Annual Report 2009-2010, pp.45, 51, 58, 174.
14. Department of Lands Annual Report 2007-2008, pp.24-25.
15. Department of Lands Annual Report 2008-2009, op.cit., pp.11, 30.
16. Ibid., p.26.
17. Loc. cit.
18. Public Sector Employment and Management (Departmental Amalgamations) Order 2009 (2009 No.352) cls.31; Notified on NSW Legislation Website, 27 July 2009; Land and Property Management Authority Annual Report 2009-2010, op.cit., pp.1, 3-4, 8, 15-17, 23-25, 34, 45-58, 95, 112, 125, 174, 182.
19. Ibid., p.25; Department of Finance and Services Annual Report 2010-2011, p.43.
20. Public Sector Employment and Management (Departments) Order 2011 (2011 No.184) cls.30; Notified on NSW Legislation Website, 3 April 2011; Ibid., pp.1-5, 11-12, 23-24, 43-44, 53-54, 87, 102-104, 277.
21. Administrative Arrangements (Administrative Changes – Ministers and Public Service Agencies) Order 2014 (2014 No.233), clss.4, 6, 9; notified on NSW Legislation Website, 23 April 2014; Office of Finance and Services Annual Report 2013-2014, pp.2-10, 24-26, 82-83, 116, 134-135, 234, 261.
22. Administrative Arrangements (Administrative Changes – Public Service Agencies) Order (No.2) 2015 (2015 No.250) clss.5, 12; Notified on NSW Legislation Website, 29 May 2015; Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Annual Report 2015 - 2016, pp.3, 9 - 13, 15, 18, 20, 24 - 25, 35, 37, 40, 74-76, 97, 132-134, 152, 168, 185.
23. Ibid., pp.215-216; Ministerial Media Release, Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations, Gladys Berejiklian, 'LPI Transaction To Fund New Infrastructure’, 20 May 2016 from the Treasury Website, http://www.treasury.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/128083/20052016_Gladys_Berejiklian_med_rel_-_LPI_transaction_to_fund_new_infrastructure.pdf (accessed 28 September 2016).
24. Announcement, Land and Property Information, 'Changes at Land and Property Information', 6 June 2016 from the Land and Property Information Website, http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/about_lpi/announcements/changes_at_land_and_property_information (accessed 3 November 2016); Land and Property Information, Circular (2016/07), 'Changes at Land and Property Information', June 2016 from the Land and Property Information Website, http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/211468/2016-07_Changes_at_Land_and_Property_Information.pdf (accessed 27 September 2016).
25. Loc. cit. ; Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Annual Report 2015-2016, op.cit., pp.13-14, 37, 75-76, 215-216; 'DFSI Organisational Chart as at 11 January 2017' from the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Website, https://www.finance.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/policy-documents/DFSI-organisational-structure_1_0_0.pdf (accessed 31 January 2017).
26. Ministerial Media Release, Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations, Gladys Berejiklian, 'LPI Transaction Legislation Introduced', 13 September 2016 from the Treasury Website, and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Act 2016, s.2, Schedule 4, http://www.treasury.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/129678/LPI_transaction_legislation_introduced.pdf (accessed 10 January 2017); Commencement Proclamation under the Land and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Act 2016 (Act No.46, 2016) (2017 No.96); Notified on NSW Legislation Website, 24 March 2017; Office of Registrar General, Circular (2017/01), 'Land and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Act 2016 – Commencement of Schedule 4 and new Pricing Regulations', 2017/01 from the Office of Registrar General Website, http://www.registrargeneral.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/139547/March-2017_-Commencement-of-Schedule-4_ORG-Circular.pdf (accessed 28 April 2017).
27. The Land and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Bill 2016, Explanatory Note, p.1 from the Parliamentary Counsel's Office Website, Legislation, http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/bills/38db138a-aa35-4196-8088-d501bd7175b7 (accessed 17 November 2016).
28. Announcement, Land and Property Information, 'Announcement of New Concession Operator, Australian Registry Investment', 24 April 2017 from the Land and Property Information Website http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/about_lpi/announcements/australian_registry_investments (accessed 27 April 2017).