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PEXA continuing its contribution to the interoperability working groups

By PEXA - 31 May 2022

PEXA continuing its contribution to the interoperability working groups

The National E-Conveyancing Law has recently been amended in the NSW Parliament to enable continued development of interoperability. An upper house inquiry heard evidence from a wide range of parties and found that stakeholders hold valid concerns around the resilience of an interoperable system, and that further safeguards are required to protect consumers. Ministers have advised that a second bill will be prepared to address these and other elements of the framework.

PEXA is committed to working with ARNECC, and across the industry, to help alleviate any interoperability implementation issues prior to the commencement of any interoperable transactions. PEXA’s overriding focus will remain on ensuring that Subscribers, and the property buyers and sellers they represent, can continue to rely on Australia’s world leading, secure and efficient e-conveyancing system without interruption.

PEXA is also pleased that progress is being made by ARNECC on four key implementation concerns that were raised last November. With updated processes now put in place, PEXA is able to continue its contribution in ARNECC’s design working groups.

More detailed information about the positive progress on the four key issues is set out below.

1. Timeline

PEXA believes that the earlier ministerial timetable for the rollout of interoperability was not adequately linked to the scale and complexity of the work required, with a clear risk of impacts on the stability and reliability of e-conveyancing for Australian home buyers and sellers.

Pleasingly, ARNECC is commissioning an independent assessment across industry participants to confirm readiness prior to each stage of commencement. The New South Wales Registrar General has also committed to provide Parliament with a security report prior to interoperability being made publicly available generally, and progress reports on key program areas including technology, regulation, stakeholder participation and project implementation.

2. Economics

PEXA highlighted that the economic model proposed in the draft Model Operating Requirements (MOR 7.1) is unsustainable and would put user experience at risk. This was because the proposal was that a ‘responsible’ Electronic Lodgement Network Operator (ELNO) must provide settlement and lodgement services to its competitor(s) for free.

PEXA commends ARNECC and the NSW Government who have commissioned the NSW independent pricing regulator (IPART) to investigate and report on a pricing framework for interoperable transactions between ELNOs. IPART will consult with key stakeholders, including ELNOs, ELNO Subscribers, and economic regulators across Australian jurisdictions.

3. Rulemaking processes

PEXA raised concerns relating to powers of intervention and the absence of standard processes that govern rulemaking. This could lead to registrars inserting clauses into commercial agreements between competitors without explanation, consultation, or review.

ARNECC has acknowledged that rulemaking processes can be improved and said it will be considering these issues as it prepares the further draft bill to amend the National E-conveyancing Law.

4. ARNECC’s role and resourcing

To date, PEXA has played a stewardship role for data standards, cyber safety and coordination of change management across the ecosystem. With the introduction of interoperability, these responsibilities will need to pass to governments. PEXA sought confirmation that ARNECC had plans in place to take on these critical responsibilities to protect system integrity.

ARNECC has established a state-owned company (NECDS Co) and is currently seeking staff to take on the stewardship role. PEXA understands that this will be funded by an industry levy.

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