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                    [post_content] => 

 

 
The 35-year lease to run the NSW's profitable  land titles registry has been sold to a consortium led by First State Super and Hastings Fund Management for $2.6 billion, in a move heralded by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as a ‘massive infrastructure boost’ and by almost everyone else as a bad idea.

The only profitable part of the state’s Land and Property Information (LPI), the land titles registry, which currently makes about $130 million in net profit annually, was bought by Australian Registry Investments (ARI), a consortium made up of 80 per cent Australian institutional investors.

Investors include First State Super, investment funds from Hastings Funds Management and a 20 per cent stake held by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s pension fund, also managed by Hastings.

The winners beat off competition from three other consortiums: Borealis and Computershare; the Carlyle Group and Macquarie’s MIRA and Link Group.

The NSW government called it a 'phenomenal result' for NSW.

“Once again today's result has significantly exceeded expectations,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“It means even more funding for the schools, hospitals, public transport and roads that people depend on every day.”

The government will drop $1 billion of the sale proceeds on upgrading Parramatta and ANZ Stadiums and refurbishing Allianz Stadium, while the remaining $1.6 billion will be invested into other infrastructure projects under its Restart NSW fund, which often funds roads and public transport projects.

The Premier has promised that at least 30 per cent of the total proceeds will be spent in regional NSW.

But while the government has argued that selling the lease to operate the land titles registry to the private sector would spur ICT investment and speed up the system, scores of real estate agents, surveyors, lawyers, unions and community groups have slammed the sell-off and called it a disaster.

They have argued that it will imperil the quality and reliability of the service, make it more expensive for ordinary people and push skilled staff out the door.  Opposition to the sell-off spilled over into a public rally in Sydney’s CBD in March.

Land titles  defines the legal ownership and boundaries of land parcels and is integral to buying and selling property, as well as taking out and paying off mortgages, leasing and inheriting property.

Despite the majority of people being blissfully unaware of the system until they need it, land titles underpins billions of dollars spent in the NSW economy and a $1.2 trillion real estate market. 

The Public Service Association (PSA) called it a 'a recipe for disaster for millions of property owners across NSW'.

“It is hands down, the most appalling fire sale decision yet by a Government with a strong track record in that area”, said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little.

“The government trumpets its efforts on ‘life-changing projects’ but what could be more life changing for millions of people across NSW than to lose the security on their own property?

“Just as the PSA feared all along, ultimately the personal property records of the people in NSW will be held offshore given a portion of the successful consortium is based in London.”

But NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet defended the lease arrangement and said it had ‘rigorous legislative and contractual safeguards’ in place to ensure the continued security of property rights and data.

He said any increases in price were capped at CPI for the entire length of the lease and the government would continue to guarantee title, with the Torrens Assurance Fund compensating landowners who lost out due to fraud or error on the register, as happens now.

A new external regulator has been established – the Registrar General – to monitor ARI’s performance and resume control, if necessary.

Mr Perrottet praised ARI and said the company had prepared ‘a technology roadmap’ as part of its bid, helped by Advara, the private company that runs Western Australia’s land titles service.

He said Advara had introduced ‘world-leading titling and registry technology’ to WA and added that the Registrar General would review and approve any major changes to LPI’s IT system in NSW.

“This is an industry on the cusp of huge technological advances, and today we have partnered with some of Australia’s most reputable investors who will make sure the people of NSW get the benefit of those advances,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Combined with the tight regulatory framework we have established, the investment, innovation and experience ARI will bring mean citizens can expect a better experience.”

He said the ARI consortium had received approval from Commonwealth regulators including the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board and the transition to the new operator was likely to be finalised over the coming months. LPI staff have a four-year job guarantee as they transition to the new operator.

More to come.

 
                    [post_title] => NSW land titles lease sold to consortium for $2.6 billion
                    [post_excerpt] => Massive infrastructure boost or recipe for disaster?
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                    [post_content] => 

 

Trains in NSW will struggle to arrive on time and be blighted by overcrowding unless the capacity of the rail network is ‘increased significantly’ by 2019, says a report by the NSW Auditor-General.

The audit of passenger rail services and rail punctuality in Sydney and regional areas, services overseen by Transport for NSW and contracted out to Sydney Trains and NSW Trains, found that the rail agencies were ‘well placed’ to manage the forecasted increase in passengers up to 2019 but would battle to stay on time beyond this date.

But Auditor-General Margaret Crawford warned that this needed to be tackled.

“Based on forecast patronage increases, the rail agencies will find it hard to maintain punctuality after 2019 unless the capacity of the network to carry trains and people is increased significantly,” Ms Crawford said.

“If recent higher than forecast patronage growth continues, the network may struggle to maintain punctuality before 2019.”

The NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan predicts there will be a 26 per cent increase in passengers between 2012 and 2031 and that passenger numbers may well overtake this figure.

Forecasts have underestimated passenger numbers in the past, particularly in the morning peak. There has been an annual growth of 6.6 per cent since May 2014, twice as much as was predicted by the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan.

More passengers usually mean more delays as trains wait longer at stations for passengers to get on and off.

Ms Crawford said Transport or NSW had been making progress but was not close to submitting a costed plan to the government to address these challenges.

“If patronage continues to increase at a faster rate than forecast, particularly during the morning peak, the network will struggle to cope before 2019," she said.

“There is a significant risk that investments will not be made soon enough to handle future patronage levels. Ideally planning and investment decisions should have been made already.”

While the audit found that system-wide punctuality was good overall, it pinpointed poor punctuality in some areas of the network.

Problem areas
  • Snarl ups around North Sydney affecting afternoon peak services out to Western Sydney and Hornsby via Strathfield
  • East Hills express trains in the afternoon peak performed ‘well below target’
  • Intercity trains were less punctual than suburban trains with declining punctuality between 2011 and 2014
But the Auditor-General was relatively sanguine about how these problems were being tackled, noting that Transport for NSW and Sydney Trains were ‘well advanced’ with strategies to address the North Sydney blockage with improved infrastructure, more staff training, new timetables  and fewer speed restrictions. Train timetable changes should correct the East Hills delays within three years, she said. Replacing old intercity trains and ensuring good staff training would ease intercity delays but MS Crawford said improvements to contracts would also help, given that Sydney Trains was responsible for train, track and signal maintenance and managing trains on the rail network. She said that Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains were now working collaboratively to make improvements to the contracts. Recommendations
  • Transport for NSW should submit plans to address passenger growth over the next five to ten years to the government as soon as possible
  • Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW should: a) oversee and resource all plans to address passenger increases b) adjust strategies for any patronage growth above projections
  • Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and Transport for NSW should publish customer delay results by June 2018
  • Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains should agree by December 2017: a) specific performance targets for intercity train, track and signal availability and reliability b) guidelines for train priorities during disruptions and indicators of control centre performance when implementing these guidelines
  • Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and Transport for NSW should by June 2018: a) improve the accuracy of measuring passenger numbers and develop a better understanding of growth trends b) address small errors in the adjustment factors used to determine a train’s punctuality c) improve their understanding of the factors impacting on intercity punctuality
  • Transport for NSW should, commencing June 2017, explore the potential to use behavioural insights to encourage more passengers to travel outside the height of the morning peak between 8 am and 9 am
Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => NSW trains will struggle with delays and overcrowding by 2019, says audit   [post_excerpt] => Problem areas of network revealed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26894 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 11:05:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:05:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26894 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26841 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-04-06 15:28:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-06 05:28:21 [post_content] =>

Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’?

  Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), representing companies responsible for the majority of container transport to and from the Port of Melbourne, has called on the Andrews’ Victorian Labor Government to help container transport operators get a ‘fair go’ in the toll pricing to use the West Gate Tunnel. CTAA was responding to the announcements by the Victorian Premier that a consortium headlined by John Holland and CPB Contractors has been selected to build the West Gate Tunnel Project (formally known as the Western Distributor Project) to commence in early 2018, and that once completed, there would be 24/7 ‘bans’ on trucks on roads in the inner west of Melbourne. CTAA director Neil Chambers said: “Not surprisingly, container transport operators in the inner and outer Western industrial suburbs undertake numerous truck trips to and from the Port of Melbourne during the day, at night and on weekends, to service vital container trade volumes through the biggest container port in Australia.” “The original government business case called for Transurban to consider a reduced toll price for transport operators undertaking these shuttle operations, as well as suitable trip caps, and the favourable treatment of Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles.”   Read more here.  This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News. [post_title] => Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’? [post_excerpt] => 24/7 'ban' on trucks in inner western Melbourne. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => will-west-gate-tunnel-ban-trucks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-06 15:28:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-06 05:28:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26841 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26762 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-04 15:41:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-04 05:41:08 [post_content] => [ngg_images gallery_ids="1" display_type="photocrati-nextgen_basic_slideshow"]     By Linda Cheng  UK firm Foster and Partners and Australian practice Architectus are part of a joint venture awarded the contract to design six new Sydney Metro stations. The proposed privately operated Sydney Metro will be a new stand alone railway from Rouse Hill in Sydney’s north west to Bankstown in Sydney’s south west, via the CBD. Seven new stations in the Sydney Metro City section will be constructed, each will be accessible to people with disabilities, prams and children, and include level access between platforms and train. Foster and Partners and Architectus will design six of the seven stations, which include Crows Nest, Victoria Cross, Barangaroo, Martin Place, Pitt Street and Waterloo. Martin Place is set to become a major transport interchange that will allow passengers to connect with other parts of Sydney’s rail network.   This article was put together by Linda Cheng at ArchitectureAU with images supplied by Transport for NSW. You can read the original article here.   [post_title] => Revealed: Sydney's six new metro stations [post_excerpt] => UK's Foster and Partners and Architectus team up. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => foster-and-partners-architectus-to-design-sydney-metro-stations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-05 09:52:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-04 23:52:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26762 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26755 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-04 11:18:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-04 01:18:19 [post_content] =>

                    By Anthony Wallace As Australasia’s biggest annual spatial event, the Locate Conference and Digital Earth Symposium (Locate17 and ISDE), can be an intimidating affair. Not only does it combine two events, it spans four days, features eight separate subject streams, offers four free workshops, features an awards night, networking functions and exclusive international assemblies. It’s safe to say that you won’t be able to experience everything that Locate17 and Digital Earth has to offer, but you can at least learn something new, find a few opportunity, or perhaps create some lasting connections with fellow attendees. Here’s your simplified guide to making the most of Locate17 and Digital Earth Symposium.

Locate17 and ISDE Must do’s:

  1. Learn something new: It’s highly unlikely you’re familiarised with each of the multiple program streams on offer, so why not learn about Virtual Globes, Crowd-sorting or Data lakes?
  2. Find out how ‘real’ reality modelling is: Speak to the likes of Nearmap, Spookfish, PSMA Australia, AEROMetrex to discover the amazing things being done with spatial data.
  3. Watch out for ministers: Big-wigs of Australian parliament have been known to attend Locate. In 2015, we saw Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (then minister for communications) and last year Assistant Minister Angus Young appeared ahead of launching the Smart cities initiative. Who might it be this year?
  Read more here. This story first appeared in Spatial Source.  [post_title] => Your Survival Guide to Locate17 and ISDE [post_excerpt] => Australasia’s biggest annual spatial event. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => survival-guide-locate17-isde [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-04 11:18:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-04 01:18:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26755 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26709 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-31 11:06:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:06:38 [post_content] => Manchester city centre, UK.     Three Australian cities will replicate a UK initiative designed to deliver economic growth, affordable housing and new infrastructure while devolve decisions away from federal government towards state and local government. City Deals is a UK initiative which began in 2012 with eight deals for cities outside London, including Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and Leeds and covering a population of 12.7 million. They have now been introduced across 38 UK city-regions. Under City Deals, state government and local councils decide what needs to be done to lift economic growth locally and they set targets in areas such as jobs, affordable housing and emissions reduction. The deals also include the regional areas around cities. The scheme emphasises building infrastructure and aims to deliver long-term benefits, such as higher land values, bigger tax receipts, more jobs and increased productivity. In the UK, most contracts are for ten years and funding often comes from all three levels of government. Local councils’ contributions tend to be lower than that from the other tiers of government, around 10 to 20 per cent, and often includes contributions in kind, such as land transfers and council officers’ time. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is known to be a fan of City Deals for Australia and he has committed to early deals for Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney. The process for future deals will be announced later. The Launceston City Deal, signed in September last year, promises to support education, employment and investment and this will include a new university campus in the city centre; revitalising the historic CBD and a new National Institute for Forest Products Innovation Hub. Under the Launceston deal, $140 million comes from the federal government and $60 million from the Tasmanian government. The Western Sydney City Deal, which includes the local government areas of the Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly, seems to have a pretty broad remit. It will focus on public transport, employment and investment (particularly youth and indigenous employment); more affordable housing by boosting supply and diversity; biodiversity and conservation and arts and culture. There is no mention of who is paying what under the Western Sydney deal, which is up on the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s website. To find out more about the UK experience and what it could mean for Australia, Government News caught up with Scottish urban economist and affordable housing specialist Professor Duncan MacLennan, who has been involved with the Glasgow City Deal. What City Deals can do  But first, let’s start off with what City Deals could do for Australia. Prof MacLennan explains that cities are ‘core areas driving national productivity’ and he says City Deals have been valuable because they have placed infrastructure at the centre of city thinking and coherent investment strategies.   While cities drive growth, the income and tax receipts from this goes mainly to state or federate government - there is a disproportionate flow back - while cities are stuck with the problems stemming from growth, like congestion, pollution and a shortage of affordable housing. Indeed, Prof MacLennan says there is some evidence to suggest that some skilled workers are fleeing cities, fed up with long commutes and expensive housing. City Deals attempt to reverse this situation by channelling some of the money back into city-regional areas. Prof MacLennan says: “In the absence of changing the fiscal system, it’s a reasonably appropriate mechanism for getting money where it needs to be. “The main benefit to City Deals is the new focus on infrastructure [that has] raised local capacity to deal with it and more coherent investment strategies.” What they the deals don’t do, he says, is lead to a better system of sub-national government because they are uneven in their impact. In the UK, the deals are not open to everyone and they have not been rolled out evenly. Since City Deals began, Prof MacLennan says that metropolitan authorities have strengthened their capacity to do big infrastructure planning and they have got much better at making the economic case for infrastructure investment. “Big City Deals now know much more about infrastructure planning and how to do it well than central government,” he says. “There is work being done that wasn’t being done three or four years’ ago.” This point was picked up in the UK National Audit Office’s (NAO) report on the first wave of eight City Deals, calling them a ‘catalyst to manage devolved funding and responsibilities’. The report also commended the deals for cutting through funding complexities and giving cities direct access to central government decision makers, which in turn helped them secure funding and support from other government departments. “This helped cities agree deals aligned to their ambitions and local priorities,” said the NAO’s report. But the process is not without its problems. Resources, as ever, have not been there to help cities build their capacity locally. Local government was expected to pool its resources and given no funding to support additional management capacity. This can lead to skills shortages, for example in forecasting and modelling. “It is not clear, however, whether this approach is sustainable in the context of wider reductions in the government’s funding for local authorities. Departments’’ resource constraints have impacted on the government’s capacity to make bespoke, wide-ranging deals with more places,” The NAO noted. Other criticisms of the UK model have included the inherent difficulty of uneven power relations between the three levels of government; the centralised control exerted when deals are negotiated; the lack of transparency around the criteria for cities to be selected for a new; vagueness around the aims, monitoring and evaluation of some City Deals and extra pressure on the already highly constrained budgets of local councils. Another downside of the City Deals, says Prof MacLennan, is raising expectations. “People think this is going to solve all their problems and don’t pay attention to other programs that are reducing and changing.” It can also open up gaps between the haves and the have nots: those areas which have City Deals and those that do not. Prof MacLennan says: “The differences may become so great that the government may have to come in and think about what it does for lagging cities.” But the neediest areas are often those where councils that may not have the organisation or the skilled workforce to make their case for a City Deal. Recommendations for Australian City Deals Good economic modelling is important from the get go, says Prof MacLennan, because it helps predict how infrastructure investment decisions affect the behaviour of individual households and businesses over several years. This can involve leveraging expertise from the university sector. For example, northern English City Deals for cities like Greater Manchester and Newcastle saw local government teaming up with universities for economic modelling and analysis. But Prof MacLennan says Sydney does not appear to have any economic metropolitan modelling ready to use. “You need to pay more attention to what you need to know before you start,” he says. “Otherwise you rely on consultants’ reports that are rarely ever in the public domain and never peer reviewed so that nobody knows what’s in them other than the government.” Once projects are up and running, it is essential to monitor their progress against targets and evaluate them effectively, although it is not always easy to know what would have happened were a City Deal not in place. “What matters is the monitoring and the learning from good monitoring,” he says. Some benefits are fiendishly tricky to quantify. For example, gauging economic gains from sustainability initiatives is difficult when there is no carbon price in Australia. Milestones are part of funding deals and if they are not met it means the next tranche of cash could be held back. The UK now has its own dedicated evaluation panel for City Deals. Putting in enough capital initially is important. Prof MacLennan says the volume of capital going into growing cities like Edinburgh, London and Manchester is not currently enough to resolve the issues these cities face. Exploring innovative methods of finance or making use of old ones could prove useful for Australian City Deals. The Scottish city of Aberdeen recently launched its own government bond but Prof MacLennan points out that cities have limited control over their tax affairs (the key to paying back bonds) and says further fiscal reform would be needed. If this is fixed, he anticipates other major cities could follow suit. In general, he says the UK has not come up with very exciting alternative methods of funding under City Deals.   On the whole, Australia is in a good position to implement City Deals and make them work. Prof MacLennan says that the Australian federal government and the states and territories have been much better at making infrastructure decisions than the UK. “I think there is a track record here off trying to think coherently about infrastructure … but the better City Deals, like Manchester, would have relevance to what happens in metropolitan Sydney.” “The images of Australia aren’t about the bush any more, it’s the cities.” [post_title] => What the UK can teach Australia about City Deals [post_excerpt] => Three Australian cities chosen for early deal. 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    By Martin Locke, Adjunct Professor, UNSW There seems to be almost unanimous and vigorous agreement that the pursuit of value capture is a worthwhile initiative in helping us to augment scarce infrastructure funding. However, we seem to be engrossed in writing thought leadership, debating policy and gathering evidence rather than getting on with implementation. At a time when we are moving forward with massive city building infrastructure projects procrastination is an exercise in value escape rather than value capture. Meanwhile there are countless examples where opportunist landholders or developers are making huge windfall profits. Objections to value capture are categorised in a Trump-like fashion as “fake news”, however we don’t have the courage to announce specific value capture instruments without more homework. Surely, it isn’t that hard. There appears to be general consensus in favour of betterment levies rather than Tax Increment Financing or Developer Contributions. I note the support for broad-based land tax but we are not a nation that has a strong track record in being quick and nimble in the area of tax reform, so I leave that one for the futurists. We already have used levies and are proposing a Special Infrastructure Contribution (SIC) of $200 /sq.m on new residential property in the Parramatta Light Rail corridor, but why $200 and just on residential developments and why aren’t we announcing at least the intention to introduce a SIC for Sydney Metro West? Value capture has been described as a funding solution in creating a stream of revenue that can be captured and used to pay for the cost of the upfront infrastructure. But isn’t it also a financing issue? Is not the stream of revenue associated with complex mixed-use property development necessarily long-term in nature and uncertain? Developers look to progressively de-risk a site with staged development and gradual release to the market with an extended programme designed to garner presales and pre-commitments. I have seen from my own experience that asking developers to pay upfront results in a hefty discount. This leads the State to question whether they are achieving value for money. In theory it is possible to contemplate the sale of development rights or the securitization of prospective value capture revenue streams but at what cost? Another concept that has raised my eyebrows is the notion of the rail entrepreneur model, whereby we bundle property and infrastructure developers together and ask them to revert with integrated solutions on developing infrastructure with property value capture. I have been told that the Gold Coast Light Rail project came down to the wire on the assessment of commercial property solutions adjacent to the light rail. But Department of Transport and Main Roads put it in the too hard basket and focused on the infrastructure. Nothing could be further from the truth. Investment in property is not the same as investment in infrastructure. They are different assets with different risk/return profiles and appeal to different investor classes. I have found that convincing the State that they are being presented with property development proposals that represent value for money is challenging, whether it relates to integrated transport, health or education precincts. Both property and infrastructure investors continue to wrestle with this issue. This links to the Federal Government’s Smart Cities Plan and the role of the Commonwealth. I have previously advocated the use of Concessional Loans to allow the Commonwealth to encourage the use of value capture and allow it to become a value-add financing source. This is an example of market failure and the Commonwealth can intervene, address long term risk and uncertainty, ensure an integrated approach and obtain a return. Shouldn’t this be included in the job description for the newly created Infrastructure Financing Unit within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet? For those who are interested in more information, Martin is running three upcoming workshops on Infrastructure Finance.
  • Melbourne, June 15 - 16  
  • Brisbane, June 22 - 23 
  • Sydney, October 5 - 6 
More information via this link.     About Martin Locke Adjunct Professor, UNSW- Martin Locke is one of Australia's leading authorities on infrastructure finance. Martin is a former Partner of PwC, having led their Infrastructure Advisory practice in Sydney over the period 2001-2014, after 23 years in investment banking with Deutsche Morgan Grenfell. Martin has provided financial and commercial advice on some of Australia's largest and most complex infrastructure projects including PPPs. He is able to advise on all aspects of the project life cycle from feasibility/business case, through to procurement, financing and financial close. He was the lead financial adviser to Government on Lane Cove Tunnel, NSW Rollingstock, Royal North Shore Hospital Redevelopment, Gold Coast Rapid Transit and Perth Stadium.  ​Martin has held independent consulting roles, peer reviewer, participated on expert panels, steering committees and various board directorships. He is a council member at the International Project Finance Association. [post_title] => Chatfest on value capture while developers pocket huge windfalls [post_excerpt] => Stop dithering, says infrastructure expert. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => chatfest-value-capture-developers-pocket-huge-windfalls [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-28 11:31:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-28 00:31:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26670 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26647 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-03-24 11:54:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-24 00:54:52 [post_content] =>     Next week's Smart Conference will address the impact of a infrastructure projects, such as the light rail expansion, on transport and logistics. With Sydney CBD undergoing a phenomenal level of transformation, there is a significant number of public and private sector infrastructure projects being undertaken including the closure of George Street, the city’s traditional thoroughfare. Sydney CBD is a $70bn economy and in the global spotlight. While changes occur, the city needs to continue with business as usual. 630,000 people work in Sydney CBD and rely on 35,000 commercial vehicle movements per day to support their needs. In addition, while the transformation is occurring, there is a need to accommodate high levels of construction traffic. While commercial vehicles play a major role to keep the CBD supplied, they are only one part of the ecosystem. Freight operators need to adapt to the new environment, and with the ongoing level of change, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this is long-term change. This presentation will describe how Transport for NSW is encouraging this change. Transport for NSW is undertaking a generational level of transformation that is impacting the way we work and live. High on the priority list of things to be addressed in NSW and other states are Urban Congestion and National Connectivity. The infrastructure being delivered will benefit both passenger and freight movement.   Marg Prendergast, CBD Coordinator General @TransportforNSW will open Smart Conference on Wednesday 29 March.   Read more here.     This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News.  [post_title] => Transport challenges take centre stage at Smart Conference [post_excerpt] => Impact of new infrastructure projects. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => transport-challenges-take-centre-stage-smart-conference [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-24 13:43:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-24 02:43:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26647 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26578 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-20 17:55:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-20 06:55:36 [post_content] =>   DIBP Secretary Michael Pezzullo. Pic: YouTube.     Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) Secretary Michael Pezzullo has faced a barrage of questions at a public hearing over the $257 million fit-out of his department’s new Canberran headquarters. The department currently leases more than 100,000sqm of office space spread across 12 buildings and four suburbs in Canberra and leases are due to end progressively between 2017 and 2020. The aim is to consolidate staff across five buildings and two suburbs, while also reducing the amount of office space leased by 14,600sqm. The reorganisation was sparked by the July 2015 integration of the Department of Immigration and Customs and the need to quickly mount sensitive joint operations securely. Mr Pezzullo faced The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works today (Monday) after senators questioned the project’s quarter of a billion dollar tab. Many of the toughest questions came from senators asked him to justify relocating 2,000 staff to an office building at Molonglo Drive, near Canberra Airport. The plan also includes retaining about 4,000 staff across three locations in Belconnen to avoid a negative impact on local businesses if there was a wholesale move out of the suburb. But Labor Senator Alex Gallacher said he did not understand the department’s fascination with the Molonglo Drive site.   “You’re paying the maximum rate that you would pay for a lease in Canberra, in an area where the building is eight years old and there is allegedly somewhere between a 20 per cent and 40 per cent occupancy rate. In a less tightly held area, why do you pay the top rate?” But Mr Pezzullo defended the Headquarters Project which the department has said will save $236 million over 30 years, mostly through cutting the amount of office space leased, competitive procurement processes and more efficient whole of life costs. “The Commissioner and I don’t drive around Canberra saying “well that would be a nice place to live in or work in or whatever,” Mr Pezzullo said. “It’s not about its attraction. It’s what came through the process as representing the best fit for the operational requirements ... the best value for money in terms of what the market had come back with in terms of fit-out costs and lease incentives and through the tender evaluation process. Its superiority relative to other market bids that had come back.” He said there was “a massive net benefit to the Commonwealth” but this would have been even larger had the department been allowed to consolidate even more aggressively.” The Department’s First Assistant Secretary of Corporate Services, Ben Wright, told the inquiry: “They gave us a good deal. It’s not just the rent rate, it’s also the lease incentive provided. They provided a rebate as well. “When you take all that into consideration on a per square metre basis, it actually works out quite attractive.” Mr Wright said the department had looked at sites in Civic, Airport, Belconnen and Lowden but the airport building was the best value for money and tender bid. The department said in its submission to the inquiry that the modern, purpose-built fit-out would enable it to co-locate and integrate staff, particularly those involved with border monitoring and control operations. It would be flexible enough to quickly establish task forces and sensitive joint operations and operate them continuously and securely. “The proposed new office accommodation will be of modern design with large efficient floor plates to support future flexibility and provide an open office environment to promote collaboration and positive cultural renewal which has been highlighted as being a critical success factor for the Department’s accommodation objective,” the department’s submission said.   Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => Pezzullo grilled over $250 million Immigration reno [post_excerpt] => Canberra Airport site questioned. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => pezzullo-grilled-250-million-department-immigration-office-fit [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-21 10:52:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-20 23:52:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26578 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26217 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-10 10:36:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-09 23:36:46 [post_content] =>   NSW public buildings could double as chill out areas for the elderly and other people at risk trying to escape this weekend’s predicted heatwave, says the Opposition. As the state contemplates sweating through temperatures of up to 45 degrees in inland areas, Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has called upon NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to trial designating public buildings such as council chambers, libraries and art galleries as 'respite cooling centres' for the elderly and families. It has been done before. Mildura in Victoria has an emergency community cooling centre where the elderly can seek relief from the heat and the Canadian city of Toronto has opened cooling centers during heatwaves. Some Eastern European cities have heating centres during cold snaps. Mr Secord said public buildings with air-conditioning could stay open longer to provide shelter for people looking to avoid the extreme temperatures. “State governments need to have contingency plans for extraordinary events and extreme hot weather is one such event,” said Mr Secord. “We want to minimise the effect of heat stress on the most vulnerable in our society; this is about protecting them. Unfortunately, these soaring temperatures are set to continue – and they hit the young and the elderly the hardest.” He said it was easier for younger people and families to avoid the heat because they could go to shopping malls, the cinema, parks or beaches but the elderly and less mobile found this more difficult. NSW Health says those most at risk from the high temperatures are the elderly, pregnant women, babies and other children, people with chronic conditions and those whose immune systems are compromised. Meanwhile, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has predicted that demand for electricity in NSW will be the highest ever, peaking between 4.30pm and 6.30pm on Saturday, and expected to reach around 14,700 megawatts. NSW residents are being urged to reduce their energy use, where they can. Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin said people should turn up their air con to 26 degrees, adjust fridge temperatures and switch off appliances and lights, where possible. Mr Harwin said that despite the heat the electricity networks were comfortable there would be no break in supply. “We are working with AEMO, TransGrid and generators to ensure that all generation capacity is operating including coal, hydro, gas, wind and solar,” Mr Harwin said. “The government is taking additional steps to reduce peak demand, including in government operations. If required the networks will consider load shedding to manage peak demand.” Load shedding is where AEMO orders power companies to begin switching off customers’ power supply to protect the power system from black outs. “I am being kept up to date on the situation and if further action is to be taken we will make sure that the energy companies are informing their customers, and we will update the community as we know more,” he said. In other news, the Senate Select Committee into the Resilience of Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World continues with a public hearing in Canberra today (Friday). The Committee will explore how Australia’s electricity networks will cope with increased power demands from severe weather events in the future, including exploring emerging technologies. The committee is due to report to the Senate on or before 24 March 2017.   [post_title] => Council chambers could be used as respite cooling centres during NSW heatwave [post_excerpt] => No blackouts, says government. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-chambers-used-respite-cooling-centres-heatwave [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-15 16:10:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-15 05:10:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26217 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26208 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-09 15:56:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-09 04:56:54 [post_content] =>    Pic: QLD Rail Facebook.     A powerful new government watchdog has been created to keep Queensland’s trains crewed and running on time, following a damning commission inquiry into rail disruptions in South East Queensland. The Strachan Commission of Inquiry uncovered a litany of timetable failures and a chronic undersupply of train crews when it investigated service cancellations and late trains on the Citytrain network and particularly on the Redcliffe Peninsula Line, which opened in 2016. Commissioner Phillip Strachans’s 300-page report, which was published in January 2017 and contained 26 recommendations, found large-scale disruptions across the network. The apotheosis came on October 21, 2016 when 167 services were cancelled, around 12 per cent of scheduled services. This was mainly due to compulsory rest periods for train crew. The Commission also found a top-heavy bureaucracy, institutional complacency and a reluctance to share bad news. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new Citytrain Response Unit would ensure Queensland Rail stuck to the ‘sweeping reforms’ contained in the Commission’s report. “The people of Queensland have been badly let down by Queensland Rail’s inability to maintain an effective timetable, and my government is very sorry and I apologise for that,” Ms Palaszczuk said. “The problems that led to driver shortages from October 2016 were many years in the making, but my government takes the responsibility, and is firmly resolved to fix them.” She said the Strachan Inquiry report revealed a culture of “relying on intuition, complacency and being reluctant to share bad news” within Queensland Rail’s Operations team. “The Citytrain Response Unit will in effect be a watchdog for QR, ensuring it stays on track and on time in delivering these vital reforms,” she said. “We will also be meeting rail unions to determine what additional measures can be taken to accelerate driver recruitment and training even further." This would mean doing external recruitment and allowing drivers to qualify more quickly on a single sector of track. The Strachan Report went into detail about driver shortages, which it said was first identified by Queensland Rail in 2013. It put the shortage down to an over reliance on overtime; restrictions on external recruitment, a one-year hiatus in driver training from February 2014 and driver training taking an average of 18 months. The Citytrain Response Unit will be established for an initial period of 12 months and will monitor, audit and report on the implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations and Queensland Rail’s response and recovery plan. Ms Palaszczuk said “This will include a rigorous assessment of service levels under the current timetable to enable stable, reliable services and sufficient training capacity to facilitate the long-term return to full service levels." The recommendations to address these issues include:
  • Developing a five-year rolling monthly forecast of crew demand and supply
  • Ongoing, not intermittent, recruitment campaigns
  • Reviewing the current timetable to ensure stable services can be provided
  • Allowing external applicants with no previous experience to apply for jobs as drivers and guards
  • Accelerating average crew training from 18 months to 9 and introducing ‘sectorised’ train crew deployment
  • Queensland Rail to provide a high-level response plan within 30 days
But Ms Palaszczuk warned there was ‘no quick fix’ because systemic issues needed solving. “It’s going to take time and it’s going to take major changes to the way Queensland Rail is structured and operates. Our very clear focus and priority is to ensure that rail commuters have reliable, efficient train services."   [post_title] => New Citytrain Response Unit to get QLD trains running on time [post_excerpt] => Driver shortages faced head on. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-citytrain-response-unit-get-qld-trains-running-time [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-10 10:42:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-09 23:42:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26208 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26157 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-02-06 11:06:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-06 00:06:08 [post_content] => Artist's impression of the State Library's new groundfloor galleries. Pic: Hassell.      By Linda Cheng   The State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW) will be redeveloped with new gallery spaces and a children’s learning centre, following a $15-million private donation from benefactors. The proposed works are the first stage of a masterplan to renew the library’s Mitchell and Macquarie buildings, developed in collaboration with Hassell in 2016. The redevelopment includes a series of new gallery spaces, which will be located at the eastern side of the heritage-listed Mitchell building on Macquarie Street in Sydney’s CBD. It will extend the existing gallery spaces to the entire first floor of the Mitchell building, and will repurpose areas that were previously used for storage, offices and temporary displays. “What we’re effectively doing is returning the eastern wing of the building to the public,” said Matthew Todd, a principal of Hassell. “Pretty much all of the building will be publicly accessible for the first time” when the refurbishment works are completed. Read more here.   This story first appeared in ArchitectureAu and appears here with kind permission.  [post_title] => State Library of NSW to undergo $15m revamp [post_excerpt] => New galleries, children's learning centre. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26157 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-07 10:55:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-06 23:55:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26157 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26005 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-01-17 11:31:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-17 00:31:40 [post_content] => Facade of courthouse with columns.       Woollahra Council back in court? Woollahra Council looks set to appeal December’s NSW Supreme Court decision in the High Court, with the decision being made next month. Three Supreme Court judges unanimously threw out its appeal against a forced merger with Randwick and Waverley Councils at the end of last year.  A council spokeswoman said the council had filed an appeal application and High Court judges would decide whether the appeal proceeded or not. The first day the special leave application can be heard is February 10. However, she said the Court could decide the matter on the papers so could make a decision at any time. To date, Woollahra Council has spent $850,000 on legal costs relating to the proposed amalgamation and $271,763 on community information campaign about the merger. The spokeswoman said the council had not incurred any additional costs in this area since it launched legal action in March 2016. It had opposed the merger because an overwhelming number of residents were against it – 82 per cent according to a council survey. The council spokeswoman said the anticipated costs of a High Court appeal, if our application is successful, would be discussed with the council's lawyers at a councillors’ briefing on February 6. Woollahra Councillor Jeff Zulman told Fairfax Media this week that although he opposed the merger he was “uncomfortable” with the council using ratepayers’ money to fight the NSW government in court over it. But Woollahra Mayor Toni Zetler has repeatedly said any legal fees incurred would be dwarfed by the rate rises a new council would put in place, estimated at between 22 and 53 per cent after the four-year rates freeze runs out, should the proposed merger go ahead.   Adelaide closer to becoming Australia’s first ten gigabit city City of Adelaide Council is searching for a company to build and operate Australia’s first ten gigabits per second optical fibre network and cement Adelaide’s future as a hub for high-tech industry and research. The council, which is hoping to make the South Australian capital ‘the centre of the universe’ for high-speed internet, has asked for expressions of interest from international and interstate investors and technology firms around the word to develop its Ten Gigabit City project. The EOI says: “It will be the fastest, most reliable large data transfer infrastructure in Australia, giving users access to data at phenomenal speeds, using global interconnects and cloud service providers.” Once finished, the council’s the network will send 10 billion bits of data per second, 416 times faster than ADSL2+, interconnecting with a new global fibre network and linking cloud-based data centres." One huge advantage will be that speed and big data transfer is no longer affected by public internet congestion. The council is hoping the ultra-fast broadband network will prove a honeypot to businesses across a range of fields, including robotics, digital start-ups, 3-D printing and online learning, enabling them to tap into the network and export their services across the world. Tender closes February 7. Hills Shire Council gets $70k disaster relief The Hills Shire Council has been awarded $70,776 by the NSW government to help clear up the damage caused by the East Coast storms and floods in April 2015. Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and NSW Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet announced the payment earlier this week. The money is being provided through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). Mr Perrottet said the funding would help relieve the council and ratepayers of the burden of costs associated with natural disasters. “The 2015 storms hit Western Sydney hard, including the Hills and Hawkesbury, with heavy flooding and high winds causing significant damage,” Mr Perrottet said. “Recovering from natural disasters is always a challenge for communities and it is vital we all work together when they strike – I know the local SES, residents, businesses and the council all worked incredibly hard in the recovery effort.” Mr Keenan said: “The NDRRA program gives councils the confidence to proactively step into recovery mode without delay, knowing that they will be able to access funding for disaster recovery activities,” Mr Keenan said. “This funding will reimburse The Hills Shire Council for costs associated with cleaning up storm and flood debris and restoring damaged essential public assets.” [post_title] => Around the councils: Woollahra’s merger appeal; Adelaide's high-speed internet [post_excerpt] => Mergers, tech and disaster relief. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => around-councils-woollahras-merger-appeal-adelaide-high-speed-internet [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-17 11:41:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-17 00:41:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26005 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25995 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-01-16 12:42:50 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-16 01:42:50 [post_content] => Researcher is analyzing Legionella in test tube with blood.   NSW local councils have been asked to comment on proposed changes to the regulation of water cooling towers in an attempt to prevent future outbreaks of Legionnaires Disease. An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in March 2016 was tracked back to an infected water cooling tower in Sydney’s CBD and this spawned the NSW Health discussion paper asking councils for feedback on the new regulations. Building owners – some of whom are councils - are responsible for checking water cooling towers every month, cleaning them every six months and getting them certified every year. As well, local councils must keep a register of water-cooling systems in their area, including details about inspections. Legionnaire bacteria can cause a nasty bacterial lung infection, which can be fatal in about 10 per cent of cases, and can be transmitted when a person breathes in contaminated water vapour, dust or soil. Legoinnaire pneumophilia bacteria can contaminate airconditioning towers, spas and shower heads and they live in warm, stagnant water, making water cooling towers some of the riskiest sites. Towers usually sit on top of large buildings forming part of the water-cooling system. A pool of water is sprayed over pipes to cool the air inside the building and then recirculated, making the warm water susceptible to infiltration by bacteria. The infected water droplets can then drift out into the street. The NSW Health recommendations include:
  • Minimum standards for testing and inspecting water-cooling towers
  • Independently audited risk management plans for operating and testing cooling towers
  • Testing laboratories to notify local councils of cooling tower test results where bacteria levels are elevated
  • Local government can ask for additional testing and results, if needed
Submissions are due by February 9. Local Government NSW is putting in a submission and asking councils for their views. [post_title] => Legionnaires’ outbreak spawns tighter water-cooling tower rules [post_excerpt] => Local councils asked for feedback. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bit-tighten-rules-water-cooling-towers-battle-legionnaires-disease [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-17 11:40:10 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-17 00:40:10 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25995 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26899 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-12 15:11:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-12 05:11:22 [post_content] =>     The 35-year lease to run the NSW's profitable  land titles registry has been sold to a consortium led by First State Super and Hastings Fund Management for $2.6 billion, in a move heralded by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as a ‘massive infrastructure boost’ and by almost everyone else as a bad idea. The only profitable part of the state’s Land and Property Information (LPI), the land titles registry, which currently makes about $130 million in net profit annually, was bought by Australian Registry Investments (ARI), a consortium made up of 80 per cent Australian institutional investors. Investors include First State Super, investment funds from Hastings Funds Management and a 20 per cent stake held by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s pension fund, also managed by Hastings. The winners beat off competition from three other consortiums: Borealis and Computershare; the Carlyle Group and Macquarie’s MIRA and Link Group. The NSW government called it a 'phenomenal result' for NSW. “Once again today's result has significantly exceeded expectations,” Ms Berejiklian said. “It means even more funding for the schools, hospitals, public transport and roads that people depend on every day.” The government will drop $1 billion of the sale proceeds on upgrading Parramatta and ANZ Stadiums and refurbishing Allianz Stadium, while the remaining $1.6 billion will be invested into other infrastructure projects under its Restart NSW fund, which often funds roads and public transport projects. The Premier has promised that at least 30 per cent of the total proceeds will be spent in regional NSW. But while the government has argued that selling the lease to operate the land titles registry to the private sector would spur ICT investment and speed up the system, scores of real estate agents, surveyors, lawyers, unions and community groups have slammed the sell-off and called it a disaster. They have argued that it will imperil the quality and reliability of the service, make it more expensive for ordinary people and push skilled staff out the door.  Opposition to the sell-off spilled over into a public rally in Sydney’s CBD in March. Land titles  defines the legal ownership and boundaries of land parcels and is integral to buying and selling property, as well as taking out and paying off mortgages, leasing and inheriting property. Despite the majority of people being blissfully unaware of the system until they need it, land titles underpins billions of dollars spent in the NSW economy and a $1.2 trillion real estate market.  The Public Service Association (PSA) called it a 'a recipe for disaster for millions of property owners across NSW'. “It is hands down, the most appalling fire sale decision yet by a Government with a strong track record in that area”, said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little. “The government trumpets its efforts on ‘life-changing projects’ but what could be more life changing for millions of people across NSW than to lose the security on their own property? “Just as the PSA feared all along, ultimately the personal property records of the people in NSW will be held offshore given a portion of the successful consortium is based in London.” But NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet defended the lease arrangement and said it had ‘rigorous legislative and contractual safeguards’ in place to ensure the continued security of property rights and data. He said any increases in price were capped at CPI for the entire length of the lease and the government would continue to guarantee title, with the Torrens Assurance Fund compensating landowners who lost out due to fraud or error on the register, as happens now. A new external regulator has been established – the Registrar General – to monitor ARI’s performance and resume control, if necessary. Mr Perrottet praised ARI and said the company had prepared ‘a technology roadmap’ as part of its bid, helped by Advara, the private company that runs Western Australia’s land titles service. He said Advara had introduced ‘world-leading titling and registry technology’ to WA and added that the Registrar General would review and approve any major changes to LPI’s IT system in NSW. “This is an industry on the cusp of huge technological advances, and today we have partnered with some of Australia’s most reputable investors who will make sure the people of NSW get the benefit of those advances,” Mr Perrottet said. “Combined with the tight regulatory framework we have established, the investment, innovation and experience ARI will bring mean citizens can expect a better experience.” He said the ARI consortium had received approval from Commonwealth regulators including the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board and the transition to the new operator was likely to be finalised over the coming months. LPI staff have a four-year job guarantee as they transition to the new operator. More to come.   [post_title] => NSW land titles lease sold to consortium for $2.6 billion [post_excerpt] => Massive infrastructure boost or recipe for disaster? 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Infrastructure