Former Queensland Senator Len Harris is on a mission to inform every person in Queensland about the changes to the Queensland Land Title Act 1994. He claims these changes were made by the current Queensland Government in 2019 with no consultation with the people of Queensland.
Harris is driving his white van around the state of Queensland to raise awareness and to speak to as many Queenslanders as possible about the changes that have been made to their land titles. His van has signs on it that read ‘HANDS OFF OUR HOMES’, ‘QLD Gov is on the NOSE’, and ‘DO YOU THINK YOU OWN YOUR HOME’. Harris is going to drive between 12-15000 km through Queensland, visiting all the small towns and holding evening meetings in the larger towns with homeowners. This YouTube clip called Revealed: What every Queensland Homeowner needs to know in 2021. The silent majority Len Harris gives a good insight into Len Harris and his message to the people of Queensland. He is also taking the Queensland Government to the Federal Court of Australia to try to have the Land, Explosives, and other Legislation Act 2019 struck down. Harris has a website the silent majority which details his work for the homeowners of Queensland.
Harris is concerned about the changes made to the Queensland Land Title Act 1994 and passed in the Land, Explosives, and other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, that become an Act in 2019. In a nutshell, the Queensland Government has made all previously issued paper property documents, Deeds, or paper certificates obsolete and replaced them with digital ones that are in the hands of three private companies.
The question must be asked how this was even allowed to happen, with homeowners never giving their permission for their private information to be given to these companies. This appears to have happened without their knowledge and without their consent. These companies are –
* Property Exchange Australia Ltd, PEXA – Melbourne Company
* Purcell Partners Pty Ltd – Melbourne Company
* Sympli Australia Pty Ltd – Sydney Company
Interestingly, PEXA has recently been listed on the ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) as a public company, with a total enterprise value of $3.3 billion.
Former Senator Len Harris is concerned that these large corporate entities can be bought and sold at the whim of these private companies or be subject to hostile takeovers by other foreign companies. He says that there is no guarantee against property owners being forced to pay an annual fee to these companies for a permit to occupy their own homes in the future. “The question is, in the long-term future, say 10, 20, or 50 years down the track, who will control the computer your land and home ownership is registered in?” Harris says.
Another concern is about the online security of these digital systems, which hold every landowner’s private information about their property. With the occurrence of cyber-attacks on the rise, how safe will all these title deeds be with these third-party private companies?
Residents have been told that if they need a paper copy of their property papers / title deed, they will need to pay a fee to these private companies to receive it. The issued paper copy is then only valid for a short time and would have to be purchased again when needed.
The NSW Government has also made recent moves to cancel homeowners Certificates of Title. They have used slightly different language than the Queensland Government, calling it the Abolition of Certificates of Title. On the website it says that ‘on 11 October 2021, new changes to the land titles system in NSW were introduced that transitioned NSW away from paper-based processes’ and that it will now be ‘100% eConveyancing’. Again, there has been no consultation with the homeowners of NSW leading up to this change. An article by mirage news in July 2021 says that this reform has been informed by a stakeholder consultation group that comprised of the Law Society of NSW, the Australian Institute of Conveyancers NSW, the Australian Banking Association and representatives from Australian banks, NSW Land Registry Services and PEXA and Sympli.
The last two on that list (PEXA and Sympli) are two of the same private companies based in Melbourne now holding the digital land titles of the Queensland landowners. Interesting that they were included in the ‘stakeholder consultation group’ who were consulted when creating the Real Property Amendment (Certificates of Title) Act 2021, when the actual real stakeholders or homeowners of NSW knew nothing about these changes.
To use Len Harris’s words, there is possibly something on the nose about the NSW Government too with regards to all these changes without consultation to our longstanding titles information. Moving to modern online storage of information is one thing but involving and trusting large private companies in the storage and decision making of our land titles in Australia is a different thing entirely.
Homeownership is the largest investment that most of us will ever make in our lifetime. Trusting that our investment is safely in our name should not be our concern. Unfortunately, these sudden changes made by our state governments is a concern and may only add to the level of mistrust that the people of Australia hold towards the governments who are supposed to serve them.