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land administration reform

All government jurisdictions are under some pressure to reform land administration systems, given the plethora of interests, obligations and rights over land, many of which are not recorded on land titles and are administered by authorities at all levels of government. An oft stated aim of reform is to address the current complexity of land administration systems inherent in local land markets. The drivers for “holistic land management” are summarised in The Case for Refocusing & Re-engineering Land Administration to Better Meet Contemporary and Future Needs in Property Rights and Markets [DOC: 18Mb].

At a personal level, the Queensland paper points out that “Mr and Mrs Average probably have little idea of the Property Rights that can and do sit above their land parcel, control its use and affect value and resale”. An initial list of these property rights in Queensland is detailed in the paper. It would not be surprising to find that similar lists have or could be drawn up in other jurisdictions.

Reform would mean ...

Land administration reform can encompass policy settings, information sources, transactional processes, regulatory regimes and administrative arrangements. Reform can have a number of outcomes, including improved customer services, more efficient operation of property markets and better decision-making. Reform can encompass the more traditional land interests or a broader range of property rights over other natural resources. Provision of comprehensive property rights information is seen by ANZLIC as a key deliverable.

There is anecdotal evidence of an emerging demand for consistent information and transactional processes across jurisdictional boundaries. Potential users include financial institutions, property developers, bodies involved in social issues such as native title and (increasingly) national and regional natural resource conservation programs. This is not surprising given the growth of national organisations dealing in land and property in different jurisdictions and growth in a national policy framework to deliver economic, social and environmental objectives which transcend borders.

ANZLIC's role in reform

ANZLIC has decided that the key problem for it to address is the difficulty for users to discover existing rights, obligations and interests. In short, interests must be discoverable. While acknowledging the bounds of a Torrens registry system, the concept of a “virtual register” accessible through a single “portal” where interested parties can ascertain all existing rights, is attractive. ANZLIC also recognises that the first level of activity must take place at jurisdictional level, so it looks to its members to engender reform initiatives within their own jurisdictions, whilst addressing national and Trans-Tasman needs.

ANZLIC has resolved to take a leadership role in holistic land administration at a national level by forming the Standing Committee on Land Administration. In doing so, it will partner with allied bodies representing particular administrative interests, including Registrars of Title, Valuers-General and surveying and mapping and align all necessary activities to obtain a coordinated response to reform needs. ANZLIC will also take a watching brief on related issues, such as water property rights, marine cadastres and native title, to identify synergies and assess opportunities to develop further partnerships to address these issues.

relevant reading

Lyons, Davies and Cottrell, 2002. On the Efficiency of Property Rights Administration in Queensland [DOC: 140pp, 18Mb].

Lyons, Davies and Cottrell, 2002. The Case for Refocusing & Re-engineering Land Administration to Better Meet Contemporary and Future Needs in Property Rights and Markets [PDF: 16pp, 1.6Mb]