Baird government says weak processes, not staff cuts ahead of lease, to blame for F6 bungle
The minister responsible for property has blamed “informal and inconsistent” processes for a bungle that saw nearly 200 families unknowingly buy homes in Sydney’s south that could be flattened for a freeway.
Pointing to a PwC investigation, Minister Dominic Perrottet said Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) interests in land for the proposed F6 freeway failed to be correctly uploaded to a special database – Central Register of Restrictions (CRR) – because of “informal and inconsistent” processes.
The report said discrepancies identified by CRR were mishandled by both RMS and Land and Property Information (LPI), which runs the database. The error occurred between June 27 and October 24 and affects 189 properties.
“The investigation also found that no changes to LPI staff in 2016 impacted the incident,” he said.
When the error first came to light, former employees of LPI claimed the bungle was caused by Mr Perrottet’s haste to split the agency into five units and axe 70 staff at the time, in preparation for privatisation.
The Baird government is planning to yield as much as $2 billion from the land titles registry, which keeps the official record of home ownership, so that it can deliver its sports stadium package.
The PwC investigation also found RMS interests in the New M5 project, part of WestConnex, were not uploaded into the CRR in September 2014. Nearly 380 properties were affected.
Mr Perrottet said that with the New M5 project well underway, the majority of affected properties now sit outside the designated route and are not directly affected by its construction.
Overall, the failure to correctly upload files in 2014 and 2016 led to 952 searches of the CRR to return incorrect responses for 582 unique properties stating the Government had no interest in the land in question.
Shadow finance spokesman Clayton Barr said the minister was showing a sense of denial.
“There is no suggestion anywhere in the report that PwC had the power to investigate staffing structure,” he said.
The story Baird government says weak processes, not staff cuts ahead of lease, to blame for F6 bungle first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.