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Issues Seeking Information about Property Valuations

John Darley, Advance SA MLC (5AA 9.50-9.56) Problems seeking information on policies and procedures for property valuations

(Byner: Let’s talk to a bloke who has a lot to say about valuations … John Darley, you’ve got some news for us …) … you recall last year the then-Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis told us that the LTO and valuation services had been sold to a consortium comprised of Macquarie Bank and a Canadian superannuation fund … in the document that we received he indicated that the Valuer-General and the Registrar-General would retain their … statutory responsibilities within Government, but the valuation services in particular had been sold to this consortium. The Valuer-General and Registrar-General are still responsible for policies and procedures and also key performance indicators that the consortium has to adhere to. I actually put in a Freedom of Information request to the Government asking for a copy of … the directions to the policies and procedures of the Valuer-General, and I was told, no you can’t have it … (Byner: On what basis?) Ha, well no basis, just denied … this is absolute madness because … everyone’s rates and taxes are based on the Valuer-General’s valuations. We have no idea of the directions given by the Valuer-General to the consortium, nor do we have any idea of the key performance indicators whereby that they have to adhere. (Byner: Surely Rob Lucas would be interested in this … the Treasurer?) Oh, he is, as a matter of fact I spoke to Rob about it and he said, oh, there are some parts of that agreement even the Minister’s not allowed to have the information. (Byner: What?) Absolutely … I raised this at Budget and Finance Committee yesterday with the Under Treasurer and he said, look, we are trying to work out how we can provide that to you … I’ve never heard of such secrecy as this sort of thing. It is absolute madness. (Byner: … are you telling me that the previous Government set up an arrangement where it said on one hand the statutory powers of regulation rest still with the statutory authority CEOs for example, as is the Valuer-General, but within that you’re not allowed to know what directions they’re giving these people?) And more particularly the public is not allowed to know. (Byner: Why?) Well, we’ll soon find out … (Byner: Did Koutsantonis do this?) Well he was the Treasurer at the time. (Byner: Well, yes, so you’re telling me that … the previous Government consciously denied the Parliament and the people information that is integral to this?) Absolutely. (Byner: Stay on the line … Mark Brindal, former Local Government Minister …) (Caller Mark Brindal: … John and I had a conversation last week … doesn’t this touch again … the Valuer-General particularly is an officer of the Parliament, he is not a part of the Government, he is almost … employed by the Parliament …) (Byner: It’s called a statutory officer, yeah.) ( Caller Mark Brindal: Yeah, even though the Minister might give him his budget … how can any Government, I don’t care which Government, in the past actually deny the Parliament information? That’s critical … that touches on the whole reason for having Parliament, if Government can hide information from Parliament, well we should get rid of Parliament.) That is my argument entirely and that’s why … I will see this through until we get this information one way or another. (Byner: So, what we’re saying is that Mr Lucas can’t get the information, the Under Treasurer can’t get the information, you can’t get the information, and they’re not allowed to know?) Exactly. (Byner: What a joke. Where does this go now … this to me is a probity integrity issue …) … we’ll keep on the case until we get this information … we’ll get it one way or another and fortunately the Under Treasurer said to me yesterday in Budget and Finance they’re trying to work out how they can provide that information. (Byner: What do you think of that … a Government sells off a monopoly, oh it’s not essential, well that’s bulldust, if it’s a monopoly and you can’t not use the service to do what you have to do it is by definition essential and then within that you’ve got secrecy, secrecy, I’m not telling you. What a way to run a state … we’ll keep a close eye on this because all of your taxes, all of them, come off the decisions of the Valuer-General, all of them.)