What is the greatest Aussie invention or innovation?
The good old Hills Hoist, Ultrasound Scanner, Electronic Pacemaker, Cochlear Implants, Black Box recorder or even Wi-Fi technology itself?
Well none of them if you ask me. And forgive me if I neatly place my very tilted real estate-centric hat on before telling you that it is the Torrens Title system of property ownership.
Originally designed way back in 1858 by Robert Richard Torrens, the Registrar of the South Australian Land Titles Office, it very simply and ingeniously developed a system whereby a single document produced by the government guaranteed an indefeasible title on all land ownership.
Adopted by the New South Wales state government in 1863 it has stood the test of time with all sales of land in this state still subject to this amazing innovation. Its success can be measured by the fact it has been sold offshore to numerous countries around the world wishing to avoid the quagmire of land ownership disputes civilisations much older than Australia has experienced for generations.
If you want to read more about it simply click on this link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torrens_title
And in my opinion, what will go down in history as the worst decision by any state government in the country - do you know what we have just done in New South Wales?
We’ve sold it.
Yep, that’s right – sold this previously 100 percent owned and operated public utility that generates roughly $130 million in annual net profit (no that's not a misprint), has a captive monopolistic market, didn't cost a cent to set up and was owned by us, the people for over 150 years.
I mean, who does that?
Now the counter argument is they did get a pretty penny for it - $2.6 billion is not chicken feed - and those funds will go directly and immediately to very worthwhile infrastructure upgrades such as schools, hospitals, public transport and regional areas.
But money comes and money goes, and all the things I just mentioned will need a lot more of it in 50, 30 or even as little as 20 years time.
What are we going to sell then?
I also get the argument that many publicly owned services are not necessarily essential and can be run more efficiently and profitably by the private sector either in partnership with the government of the day or outright.
But not this. In fact the greatest fear the real estate industry, law society, surveyors, unions and scores of community groups generally hold is that this previously perfect "unbroken" system will be diluted in the quality and reliability of its service with the distinct possibility of future purchasers needing to obtain title insurance to safeguard any risks.
All totally unnecessary. The government states that it has set very rigorous and legislative safeguards to ensure the continued security of the property rights of this sate's citizens. But I could hardly think of anything more secure than a government guarantee.
I truly hope I'm wrong, but we won't really know what we're dealing with until the next ten to twenty years of property sales flow through.
I don't think Robert Richard Torrens would think it's a good idea though if he was still around.