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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 2972 ..

applicant for the package of documents to be then lodged with the Land Titles Office. The Land Titles Office then scans these same approved hard copy plans to its own electronic register.

I am sure that members would agree that this process is administratively cumbersome both for those within government and, importantly, for our community member applicants. As such, the modifications to section 9 of the Unit Titles Regulation that I propose in this bill, as set out in clauses 34 to 36, remove the need for “wet signatures” and the requirement to sign all pages of the unit plan, including the schedule of unit entitlements. This amendment to the administrative process aligns with COVID-19 safe practices and facilitates the move to an electronic system of approvals across government.

With the amendments proposed in this bill, an applicant will be able to electronically lodge a unit titles application with the planning and land authority. The authority will then be able to assess, exchange and approve the unit titles documents in electronic format. This will save time, printing costs and additional manual handling, and ensure the quality of the documentation. The current process requires applicants to attend an Access Canberra service centre up to five times to process, lodge and pick up documentation. The amendments in this bill reduce future pressures on face-to-face services as Canberra continues on its path out of the current lockdown.

As the approved units plan will be stored on a shared document management drive, this will also allow the Land Titles Office in Access Canberra to access the approved documentation at the time of lodgement, thus removing the need for double handling of the application. This will facilitate examination by electronic means and remove the administrative burden of scanning volumes of paper. This shift to an exclusively digital engagement will make it easier for the applicants within the community by supporting subsequent settlement processes for buyers, as this is one of the objectives of the Managing Building Better reforms.

The electronic processing of unit plans allows both the seller and buyers of newly constructed units to access registered documents and information from the land titles register far quicker. This will improve on the current time frame of two to four days post registration, during which period the documents have been scanned into the system as part of the processing. This initiative further supports Access Canberra’s introduction to the ACT of electronic conveyancing—or e-conveyancing—by the end of 2021. This initiative supports end-to-end processing for the lodgement of units plans by enabling buyers of a unit to access plans electronically and securely, right until the time of final settlement. This initiative is another example of digitisation of services to make it easier for people to do business with government.

The next suite of amendments that I wish to speak to are those relating to the Planning and Development Act 2007 and the administration and approval of land management agreements. Land management agreements are intended to facilitate cooperation between ACT Government agencies and rural leaseholders, with a view to establishing appropriate sustainable agricultural management practices; ensuring good farm biodiversity; maintaining the ecological and cultural values of the land; and protecting the environment from harm.

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