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Land valuations report released

Friday, 3rd May, 2013

Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on the Office of the Valuer General Matt Kean. Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on the Office of the Valuer General Matt Kean.

By Erica Visser

A State Government inquiry into land valuations which looked at City Council's $6.9 million debt to Perilya has recommended the Valuer-General's office be abolished.

The inquiry opened in Broken Hill in March in response to numerous land valuation discrepancies throughout NSW.

The chairman of the committee that headed the inquiry, MP Matt Kean, said that Broken Hill was a prime example of a community that had suffered because of problems with the land valuation system.

The city was one of four case studies used within the findings, which were released yesterday.

The report found that the Perilya debacle would have been solved sooner had the system worked better.

According to the report, Perilya spent $200,000 fighting its 2007 land valuation at the Land and Environment Court (LEC) for nearly three years.

The report found that if the Valuer- General had granted Perilya a review upon the company's objection, the matter could have been cleared up
sooner and without the possibility of ratepayers forking out $7 million.

The report recommended that the Valuer-General be replaced by a Valuation Commission, which would include a Chief Commissioner responsible for enforcing land valuation guidelines.

Land valuation cases would also be no longer handled by the LEC, given the cost and inaccessibility of the court.

Instead they would be handled by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal to give landholders a better opportunity to dispute their valuations.

Other recommendations include having publicly available and clear guidelines for valuations, an Ombudsman to regularly report on the system, and a new method of determining council rates.

Mr Kean said that it was "surprising" that reforms had not been made previously.

"It is extremely disappointing that action has not been taken over the last 10 years, particularly in the areas of transparency and the provision of a fair hearing," he said.

"This is a valuation system that is in need of a paradigm shift.

"Public confidence in the system has been undermined by the Valuer-General's failure to systemically afford landholders a fair hearing and provide transparency on valuation methodologies."

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