Page 584 - Week 02 - Thursday, 20 February 2020

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MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts, Creative Industries and Cultural Events, Minister for Building Quality Improvement, Minister for Business and Regulatory Services and Minister for Seniors and Veterans) (10.51): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to introduce the Electronic Conveyancing National Law (ACT) Bill 2020 which will allow conveyancing to occur electronically in the ACT. Electronic conveyancing, e-conveyancing, is an initiative that has been agreed by the Council of Australian Governments to provide a common framework for electronically settling and lodging property transactions. E-conveyancing has become progressively available in Australia since 2013 through the electronic conveyancing national law. The national law provides a consistent framework for how parties can electronically settle their transaction and submit it to the land title registry of their jurisdiction.

The ACT is joining New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia in making e-conveyancing available under this framework. I note that the Northern Territory and Tasmania have also agreed to make e-conveyancing available in their jurisdictions. This bill will further modernise the land titles system in line with the ACT digital strategy.

I would like to set out what e-conveyancing is and what it is not. As mentioned in my earlier presentation of the Land Titles (Electronic Conveyancing) Legislation Amendment Bill, we are modernising the current approach to conveyancing where parties settle and lodge in person. E-conveyancing changes a number of the conveyancing transaction points from in-person to online.

The settlement process occurs electronically. This provides scope for parties to a transaction to receive settlement moneys more quickly rather than waiting for paper cheques to be deposited and cleared. Further, in an e-conveyance there is not the need to physically drive or travel to the land titles office to lodge the documents. Rather, they are lodged electronically and at that point the land titles office will assess whether a change to the land titles register should be made. A move to e-conveyancing is not a move to privatise or to outsource the functions of the land titles office.

The ACT is not mandating the use of e-conveyancing. A lawyer or a bank will have the choice whether to undertake the conveyance electronically for their clients or to continue to settle and lodge in person. If all parties to the transaction are not using e-conveyancing the settlement and lodgement will continue to occur in person.

The framework for e-conveyancing under the national law is based on businesses providing an intermediary scheme for lawyers and banks to electronically settle and lodge property transactions with the land titles office. These intermediaries are referred to as electronic lodgement network operators, or ELNOs, in the national law. Also it is based on lawyers and mortgagee banks subscribing to use the electronic lodgement network to settle and lodge property transactions on behalf of their clients.

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