Jul 25, 2012

Land Surveying Forum - 11 July 2012 Meeting

Parliamentary Committee on Land Tenure

On 7 June 2012, Queensland's Legislative Assembly referred an inquiry into land tenure in Queensland to its State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee - as recorded in Hansard at p.680. The Terms of Reference require the Committee to report to the Legislative Assembly by 30 November 2012. The Committee is now accepting submissions from the public; and submissions close at 5:00pm on Friday, 3 August 2012. The Terms of Reference were given as follows:

That the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee inquire into and report on the future and continued relevance of Government land tenure across Queensland.That, in undertaking this inquiry, the committee should particularly consider the following issues:
  • Ensuring our pastoral and tourism industries are viable into the future;
  • The balanced protection of Queensland's ecological values;
  • Ongoing and sustainable resource development; and
  • The needs and aspirations of traditional owners.
Further, that the committee take public submissions and consult with key industry groups, industry participants, indigenous Queenslanders, and relevant experts.

Spatial Industry Response

The Land Surveying Commission of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, Queensland Chapter  (SSSIQ-LSC) became aware of the inquiry into land tenure. The issue became an agenda item at a cadastral surveying forum sponsored by the held at the Greek Club on 11 July 2012. I presented an outline to the forum of how I thought the Parliamentary Committee might proceed based on things I see as major influences in the way governments are being financed and required to operate.

Briefly, much of the rationale for the new Parliamentary Committee System arrangements stems from a desire by COAG for better regulation and better performance reporting by government. A first step is to achieve a better scrutiny by parliament on what legislation is passed by the Parliament. A later step will be the review of whether legislation actually does what it is supposed to do.

In accepting an invitation to respond with the Parliamentary Committee, the response will present both opportunities and risks for SSSIQ. The opportunity is for a meaningful conduit to members of parliament to express opinions without having the content filtered through the communication processes of executive government. The risks are in failing to indicate the relevance of our industry in a way that resonates with the Committee's needs for information.

Some background into what is expected from the system of parliamentary committees is apparent in the following references.
Legislative Assembly of Queensland, Committee System Review Committee, Hon Judy Spence (Chair), Review of the Queensland Parliamentary Committee System, Queensland Parliament, 15 December 2010, ‘Introduction’, p.xi. Refer also to related documents.

The Parliamentary Committee's First Meeting

Although the terms of reference are broad ranging, the Parliamentary Committee will necessarily refine the scope and direction of its inquiry. The following information refers to uncorrected proofs of minutes of the first meeting of the Parliamentary Committee held on 11 July 2012
State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee - Public briefing - Inquiry into the future and continued relevance government land tenure arrangements in Queensland, Transcript of Proceedings, Wednesday, 11 July 2012, Brisbane.
Generally, the minutes record the comments of senior public servants about how they see their roles and functions. However, the comments of committee members give inights into their personal knowledge, misunderstandnings and concerns. Overall, the inquiry processes show some prospects of building sophisticated understandings and agreements on which more effective regulation can be founded. However, the propsects for misuse and abuse of the processes are always present.

Where to From Here?

SSSIQ-LSC should respond to the Committee's invitation to make a submission. Initially, our response should be to indicate how our knowledge is relevant to the Committee's work. The work may be seen as an investment in establishing a good working relationship  between the regulators and the regulated - and between the parliamentary representatives and those who deserve to be adequately represented.

On recieving a submission that claims to come from an industry association, a parliamentry committee is entitled to ask if the submission is well informed and representative of the industry on key issues and whether there are some issues on which there is no industry consensus. Parliamentary committees have a particular legitimacy in a democratic society to understand and recommend policy measures in matters of public interest.


  1. John,
    Let me first congratulate you on the initiative you have shown in setting up a blog to discuss public policy relating to survey and mapping in Queensland.

    There are open forums like SSSI LinkedIn to discuss these sorts of things but to devise policy, strategy and a common understanding in the Land Surveying profession I believe a select group with a common interest would be attracted by this blog, those with a focus on Queensland regulation and surveying practice. I hope it expands to include as many surveyors in Queensland as possible.

    I agree with your proposal to make a submission on to the State development Infrastructure and Industry Committee public briefing on the 11 July 2012. We need to highlight the role of the profession in economic sustainability at the state level .

    I think two themes come through in these hearings about the fundamental characteristics of a land tenure system. These were highlighted by Mr Paul Martyn on Page 18 in relation to Tourism...
    1. It must provide security of tenure to facilitate private investment
    2. It must allow for diversification of land uses to support investment.

    The profession and its role has been touched on favourably by Liz Dann, in this transcript. She states 'that a secure land registration system is fundamental to a healthy state economy. ' (P8) She goes further to explain that the present system of surveyors defining the extent and the area of land is critical to a highly secure, low risk platform for investment. This indicates the profession is critical from a security of tenure perspective and I think this should be highlighted in our submission.

    The second point is one which I believe holds great future opportunity for the profession. Clearly like no other profession or trade Land Surveyors generally have an intimate connection with not only land ownership but the shape size extent of land and property. This makes the Land Surveying profession the one that has the ability to best manage land use particularly the rights, obligation and restrictions in land use. What land can be used for is also a critical driver in the value of land apart from it area and spatial extent.

    Ms Dann also touched upon the advancement in measurement technology and how this has reduced the cost to perform surveys without compromising the certainty of location of boundaries in some remote areas. I detail in my next post..

  2. A great challenge that lies before the profession is how our regulatory framework can respond to advancements in measurement technology and how this can create greater efficiency in the way surveys are performed in regional and urban areas.

    In summary the advancement in technology developed during the 90's reached maturity sometime during the last decade. What is now required is a measured regulatory response to the advancement in technology so that the regulatory system under which surveyors operate can facilitate the use of new technology and better integrate the cadastre with land use tools and software in preparedness of surveyors playing and increased role in management of land use.

    I recommend a response the SSSI to this committee hearing. I believe the Land Surveying profession has a lot to offer this committee in terms expertise and knowledge when comes to maximising the benefit of state and freehold land resources in the Queensland Economy.

  3. Thanks for your comments Lee. There is a bit of learning to do in making this work so we all need to be a bit patient with each other - as hard as that may be from time to time.

  4. Land surveying and mapping may be perceived as a subset of the broader geographic information field ("Geographic Information Infrastructure" GII / "Spatial Information Infrastructure" SII / "Spatial Data Infrastructure" SDI etc.) An important perspective is the complete information usage cycle, as encoded in data: capture/creation; handling (storage, maintenance, manipulation); delivery to users (information products, e.g. cadastral products); user usage (involved with economic activity within the State); value derived (profit for users, and revenue for the State via various taxes imposed on that economic activity, both direct and indirect); user current and future needs (as feedback to government influencing ongoing information handling activities). Recognising the large amount of research and documentation on all these matters (including by SSSI, QSIC etc), and that a submission to the Committee needs to be succinct and to the point, it may be beneficial though to include cogent statements about the benefit and value (in $) that land surveying and mapping as an industry brings to the State economy, including references to the information product delivery part of the cycle: including access policies (full cost recovery; marginal cost of delivery; open access). It wouldn't be beneficial to wade through the pros and cons of each policy type (the jury's still out it seems - forever!), but it's important to bring attention to the subtleties that information pricing policies may have on the economy, and also inefficiencies (a la red tape, green tape) that exist currently in the cycle (many of which might be minimised by proper attention to poor business processes within information organisations such as government departments).

    1. Thanks Mark,
      My impressions are that the Committee will come to understand how land issues are interconnected with physical production quite generally. All raw materials begin as natural resources obtained from the land and its offshore marine environs.

  5. John,

    Did the profession supply a response to this committee by the 3rd of August 2012. If so what was the nature of the response that you were a part of.

    Please keep us informed of the progress of this committee in relation to land tenure.