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Investec Bank recommends sale of WA title registry Landgate

The State Government has for the past two months sat on a report that backs the privatisation of WA’s land information system, amid revelations NSW homeowners have faced soaring fees since the land registry there were sold.

Investec Bank was commissioned by Treasurer Ben Wyatt in January to look at sale options for Landgate, WA’s land title registry. It is understood Investec delivered its report in April, just ahead of the State Budget, recommending a sale.

Mr Wyatt said yesterday the State Government was “considering” the report’s recommendations, without elaborating.

As the State Government mulls privatising Landgate, which is tipped to fetch up to $2 billion, NSW homeowners and businesses have seen soaring prices for basic information, including title and ownership searches needed before buying property, since its registry was sold last year.

Its new owners have found creative ways around attempts by the NSW Government to cap price rises, creating new fee categories and forcing homeowners and business to use separate data brokers to conduct searches.

That has reportedly led to a tripling of fees for simple searches.

The gouging has raised new fears over the sale Landgate, heightened by the fact a privatised Landgate subsidiary, Advara, is a key IT consultant to the NSW registry’s owners.

Shadow planning minister Liza Harvey said it was clear that the sale price being touted would lead to similar problems as in NSW.

“A purchaser would have to substantially increase the revenue to justify the price — by increasing prices or by onselling the valuable private data of millions of individuals and businesses,” she said.

The May State Budget tipped Landgate to deliver dividends of $44 million within three years. It booked a $26 million gross profit last year.

Public Sector Union secretary Toni Walkington said there was no good reason to sell Landgate.

“It’s clear the Government is looking for a cash injection but they shouldn’t consider selling a productive and innovative asset like Landgate,” she said.

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