Establishment and Functional Responsibilities 1978-1985
The Department of Property and Services was formally created by Order-in-Council on 16 May 1978. It was originally principally concerned with coordinating the provision of centralised services to other government agencies, the management of state elections, and the provision of information services to the public through a number of operational units, including the Victorian Government Printing Office (VA 1035), Government Computing Service (VA 1857), Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (VA 983), Public Record Office (VA 683), State Electoral Office (VA 1061), Government Statist and Actuary (VA 989), and Government Courier Service (VA 1858). The Land Monitoring Division (VA 680) also operated within the Department until it was transferred to the Department of Management and Budget (VA 1022) in 1985.
In November 1981 the government information service and the government courier service were transferred to the Department from the Department of the Premier (VA 2717). Responsibility for government motor transport was also transferred from the Department of the Premier (VA 2717) in 1984.
Expansion of Responsibilities 1985
In 1985 following extensive machinery of government changes the Department was re-organised to enhance its role in relation to property and asset management, land identification and management, and land information services. The Department assumed responsibility for the following operating units:
the Property and Services Division from the Public Works Department (VA 669)
the Titles Office and Registrar-General's Office (VA 862) from the Law Department (VA 864)
Land Information Services from the Law Department (VA 2825)
LANDATA from the Ministry of Planning and Environment (VA 1024)
the Surveyor-General's Office from the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands (VA 1034)
the Government Employee Housing Authority (VA 1356) from the Ministry of Housing (VA 609)
the Valuer-General's Office (VA 2322) from the Local Government Department (VA 601).
The transfer to the Department of these functions reflected the Government's decision to consolidate land information services and transactional land and property related functions into one Department, including:
providing leased and purchased accommodation suitable for occupation by government departments
administration of the Torrens system of land registration for dealings in land
creation of a state wide information system detailing all matters of land related data
survey and mapping
providing suitable housing accommodation for government employees
providing valuation advice to government agencies and local government authorities.
From 1978/79 until 1985 the Department of Property and Services (VA 430) had responsibility for the function of monitoring government land sales. This function was inherited by the Treasurer in 1985 and was the responsibility of the Land Monitoring Division of the Department of Management and Budget (VA 1022) until it was transferred to the Department of Planning and Urban Growth (VA 3006) in early 1990. In 1991 the function was transferred back to the Department of the Treasury (VA 3007) and remained with this agency until it was transferred to the Department of Finance (VA 3016) after the October 1992 election. In mid 1993 responsibility for land monitoring was transferred to the Department of Planning and Development (VA 3094).
All purchases and sales of properties by Government of $100,000 or more require Land Monitoring approval to ensure that all Government requirements under the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986 in relation to property transactions are met. The function was established to provide Government with an independent safeguard against further land dealings of the type criticised at the Gowans Board of Enquiry and later at the Frost Royal Commission. This function is completely separate from the budgeting and planning functions in relation to government real estate. The function encompasses:
monitoring all purchases and sales of properties by Government of $100,000 including assessing submissions from agencies and monitoring of auctions.
the development of policies for the management of government real estate
assisting in identifying properties that are surplus to current needs. Administering the Government's decision in relation to the disposal of surplus railway land
This function encompasses the development and provision of a comprehensive and co-ordinated electronic information network for quick access to data relating to any block of land in Victoria drawing on a variety of government agencies' records and information systems.
Landata was established to co-ordinate the land information records and systems of various government agencies and to develop a computerised land information system for Victoria to provide ready access to information on each block of land in the State. In October 1982 a project team began developing a five year corporate plan for Landata, in conjunction with key user agencies. Responsibility for this function was transferred from the Department of Planning (VA 599) along with other planning functions in 1983. Landata became a division of the Ministry in January 1984.
In March 1985, following machinery of government changes, Landata was transferred to the Department of Property and Services (VA 430) and grouped administratively with other major land information and land administration agencies within the Department, such as the Titles Office, the Division of Survey and Mapping and the Valuer-General's Office. Prior to this the Government Computing Service of the Department of Property and Services had provided the Landata Division with advice on technical specifications for computing equipment for the Landata system. In January 1991 this function was transferred to the Ministry of Finance (VA 3016).
Further Responsibilities from 1988
Following more machinery of government changes in 1988 the Department assumed responsibility for the following functions:
sale of Crown lands, particularly by public auction, from the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands (VA 1034)
supply of furniture, stores and equipment, fitting out government accommodation, maintenance of air-conditioning, and related survey and drafting functions for government constructions from the Ministry of Housing and Construction (VA 2907)
restraint and monitoring of prices, through the Office of Prices, following the transfer from the Department of Industry, Technology and Resources (VA 2661) of the Office of the Prices Commissioner and the Prices Peg Secretariat.
In September 1989 the Office of Prices was transferred again to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (VA 1026).
The Department also provides administrative support to a number of small statutory authorities such as the:
Municipal Valuation Fees Committee
Public Records Advisory Council.
Abolition of the Department of Property and Services
Following significant machinery of government changes in January 1991, the Department of Property and Services was abolished and its functions transferred to the Ministry for the Arts (VA 1025), Department of the Treasury (VA 3007), the Attorney-General's Department (VA 2825), the Ministry for Ethnic, Municipal and Community Affairs (VA 3015) and the Ministry of Finance (VA 3016).
Location of Records
See also List of Holdings 2nd edition, 1985, section 3.18.1.