Land Use Victoria is to be partially sold off, Treasurer Tim Pallas announced on Wednesday.
The government will soon begin a search for a private operator to take over the agency’s land titles and registry functions for a 40 year term.
Several essential services will remain in public hands, including subdivisions, application and survey, valuer-general Victoria, surveyor-general Victoria, land information and spatial services, government land advice and coordination, and the Victorian government land monitor.
The registrar of titles will also remain under state control, retaining an oversight role over the private operator.
The decision follows a scoping study “that focused on putting land registry customers first, by delivering better services, protecting data and privacy, and continuing the government’s guarantee of titles”.
The private operator will be responsible for the commercialised land registry functions and transactions for a term of 40 years, after which responsibilities will be returned to public hands.
During this period, the government will retain control over prices for statutory land registry services and price monitoring of non-statutory services provided by the private operator.
The private operator will be required to meet key performance targets, and will suffer financial penalties if standards are not met.
The government will conduct a competitive market process to find a buyer, and expects to announce a preferred provider in the second half of 2018.
The government says it will ensure employment conditions and entitlements are protected for Land Use Victoria staff affected by the transaction. It has engaged with employee representatives through the process of developing the scoping study, and will continue to work with them “to ensure a fair outcome for employees”.
Victoria isn’t the first to go down this road. Last year New South Wales leased its land registry agency for $2.6 billion for 35 years. Western Australia is currently weighing up whether to privatise Landgate, which began the process of commercialisation long ago.