UDIA in Action

UDIA WA wishes our valued members the very best of health as we navigate the latest lockdown.

Despite restrictions, the team at UDIA WA is continuing with ‘business as usual’ (albeit remotely) with several submissions due this week and a raft of research and event planning activities happening as well.

First up, the latest report from the Housing Industry Forecasting Group was released today.  UDIA highlighted that while dwelling commencement forecasts are up to near record highs, land and housing supply remains a critical issue in the coming years. Read our media release here.

Along with housing supply, the current skills shortage is also a major issue for our members.  UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck was set to attend the Premier’s Skills Summit on Wednesday to represent the development industry perspective.  Unfortunately, due to the current lockdown the summit has been postponed, but UDIA will still be providing advice to the Government in the coming week on our recommendations for attracting and retaining skilled workers.

Furthermore, we are finalising the latest edition of our Home Purchaser Sentiment Survey results to release to members shortly, as well as our State Budget Submission for the government which will be submitted next week.

On a lighter note, last Friday UDIA WA was delighted to host our annual President’s lunch at QT Perth (luckily prior to current lockdown restrictions!) It was fantastic to get together with former and current Presidents of the Institute along with members of the current Council and our Leadership team to discuss the state of the market, industry and broader issues impacting on Perth and the regions.

Nominations for the 2021 UDIA WA Awards for Excellence officially closed yesterday, and we are looking forward to finding out more about the quality projects that have been entered this year.

With nominations now closed, our attention turns to the Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner, which is now open for registrations here.

We would like to thank members for your ongoing support and we look forward to continuing to successfully represent the industry as we start the new financial year!

Housing starts at record high

The Housing Industry Forecasting Group (HIFG), of which UDIA WA is a member, released its latest WA dwelling commencement figures this morning, increasing forecasts from 18,500 starts last November to 23,000 for the 2021/22 FY.

The increase showcases the continued strong recovery in the Perth housing market following the building stimulus measures introduced last year. The predicted 23,000 starts sits above the long-term average of more than 22,000, although the HIFG forecasts commencements will fall back to within the range of 17,000 to 21,000 for the two proceeding financial years.

The Group’s revised forecast is an increase of over 70% when compared to 2019-20 and would be the highest number of commencements since 2015-16 but well below the peak of 2014-15 (31,705).

The HIFG report highlights that activity in the new build market continues to be underpinned by stimulus packages which are expected to flow through into dwelling commencements through 2021-22. The extension of construction-start times under the State’s Building Bonus program to 12 months after signing a building contract supported dwelling commencements over the forecast period, however potential steadying in commencements is expected when stimulus measures end.

Despite the high levels of activity, UDIA continues to raise concerns in relation to future housing supply and affordability.  Our media release is here.

For more information and to read the forecast in full, click here.

Draft Revenue Ruling DA25.0 – Substantially One Arrangement

This week UDIA WA lodged a new submission in conjunction with the Property Council of Australia on the Draft Revenue Ruling DA25.0 – Substantially One Arrangement.

Within the submission we detail that despite the recent construction activity, our industry has suffered from a long-term decline in property investment, which coupled with a modest increase in population over the past 12 months has led to a severe housing supply shortage, with the rental vacancy rate falling below 1%.

However, housing demand has been subdued while international borders remain closed. This together with the effective handling of the virus by both the Federal and State Government is likely to mean that WA will experience significant net overseas migration as the international borders reopen placing significant further demand pressures on our housing market.

Against this backdrop it is vital that our members are able to provide a sufficient supply of homes to meet demand and avoid housing affordability pressures that are detrimental to our communities and undermine the competitiveness of our economy. To support industry to achieve this, it is imperative that property investment remains an attractive investment proposition.

The submission details our concerns about the potential for further duties to arise if a capital raising by a company or unit trust (after the company or unit trust owns or has contracted to acquire land) is treated as ‘substantially one’ arrangement.

Within the submission we provide some key recommendations to provide greater guidance and reduce ambiguity for taxpayers and to enable property investment to remain an attractive proposition.

To read the submission in full, click here.

Roads to Reuse

A new report on the Roads to Reuse (RtR) pilot project has been released by project founders Waste Authority and Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) who have worked closely with Main Roads WA (MRWA) and the Waste and Recycling Industry of WA (WRIWA) to deliver the project.

The Roads to Reuse program has been designed to support the ongoing use of recycled construction and demolition (C&D) products in civil applications such as road construction. It does this by providing a comprehensive framework in which C&D recyclers can demonstrate to purchasers how their recycled products meet strict specifications.

The report provides key findings about the benefits of using RtR compliant products and MRWA’s positive experience using those products. Building on the success of the pilot, State Government agencies are continuing to increase commitments to procure and use significant quantities of RtR compliant product.

The report is split into two sections with part A describing the Waste Authority’s RtR program, including its role in supporting the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, as well as key findings from the pilot phase to the end of June 2020. Part B presents the experience from MRWA and describes MRWA’s use of materials in a construction setting, including engineering conditions, contract conditions, and practical use considerations.

To read the report in full, click here.

Update to WAPC position on fibre-ready telecommunications infrastructure

Following an amendment to the Commonwealth Telecommunications Act 1997, the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) has replaced its Position Statement (and use of relevant model subdivision conditions, TE1 and TE2) with a new fact sheet. This fact sheet has been prepared to help landowners and developers gain a broad understanding of their obligations under Commonwealth telecommunications legislation and to direct them to further information and resources.

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Act 1997 has been amended to extend to all developers the requirement that all building lots or units have fibre-ready facilities installed before they are sold or leased.

Under the previous version of the Telecommunications Act only constitutional corporations were required to install fibre-ready facilities, which was the key reason for the WAPC Fibre-ready Telecommunications Infrastructure Position Statement. As the Commonwealth’s Telecommunications Act requirements are now consistent with those of the Position Statement, there is no need for the WAPC to duplicate a Commonwealth requirement.

Please be advised that the WAPC may place an advice note on subdivision approvals to remind landowners/developers of their obligations pursuant the Telecommunications Act 1997.

If an entity holds a valid WAPC subdivision approval subject to either condition TE1 or TE2, which require a suitably qualified person to certify provision of either fibre-ready facilities or suitable telecommunications infrastructure to proposed lots, the WAPC has provided the following information:

These conditions been overtaken by the changes to Commonwealth legislation. On this basis, the WAPC has invited local governments to clear these subdivision conditions without evidence from a suitably qualified person, on the proviso that applicants/landowners are notified in writing by the local government of their obligations pursuant the Commonwealth Telecommunications Act 1997. Local governments may utilise the advice note below for this purpose:

The applicant/landowner is advised that pursuant to the Commonwealth Telecommunications Act 1997 there will generally be a requirement for the installation of fibre-ready telecommunications infrastructure. Exemptions can be sought for certain types of development. Further information is available from the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications website at www.infrastructure.gov.au

While the WAPC has determined the conditions can be cleared by local governments without evidence, the requirement to provide appropriate infrastructure pursuant to the Telecommunications Act 1997 still exists. It is strongly recommended that landowners and developers make their own enquiries to satisfy themselves that requirements to provide fibre-ready telecommunication infrastructure pursuant to the Commonwealth Telecommunications Act 1997 have been met.

For more information and to view the fact sheet, click here.

Native Vegetation Referral

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) will be introducing a new referral process, designed to simplify and modernise the regulation of native vegetation clearing in Western Australia.

This referral process provides prospective applicants with an option to refer their proposed clearing activity to the relevant department to make a decision on whether a clearing permit is required.

To support this new process, DWER has developed a new Guideline: Native vegetation referral to provide external stakeholders information on the referral process and how the department will consider the criteria in the legislation to assist applicants intending to refer clearing proposals.

This guideline is being released for a one-month consultation period and UDIA WA will be lodging a submission with comments to help shape the final process. The guideline document is available on DWER’s website, here.

Please provide any feedback to inform UDIA WA’s submission to policy@udiawa.com.au by Friday 23 July.

Tracking regional movements

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has released the Regional Movers Index, which has been designed to allow population growth hotspots to be identified quickly and easily.

The Regional Movers Index presents fresh analysis of movements between Australia’s regions and capital cities. The Index updates the trend identified in the RAI’s 2019 Big Movers report – that in recent decades more people have been moving from Australia’s capital cities to regions than in the opposite direction.

Powered by CBA data from relocations amongst its 10 million customers, the index presents quarterly and annual changes, with future data only having a one-month reporting gap and is designed to be an invaluable resource for both the public and private sectors. By tracking people movements it enables early identification of growth trends, and flags places emerging as hot spots needing fresh thinking on housing and infrastructure.

To view the new index, click here.

Job vacancies higher than pre-COVID level

Job vacancies in Australia in May 2021 were 57% higher than February 2020, prior to the start of the pandemic, according to new seasonally adjusted figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Additionally the ABS said that job vacancies continued to increase and were up by 23% over the quarter.

“There were around 362,000 job vacancies in May 2021, which was higher than we have ever seen in Australia. This was 69,000 more than February 2021 and 132,000 more than last February,” Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS said.

In May 2021, 22% of businesses reported at least one vacancy, double the level in February 2020 (11%).

“There has been a steady increase in the proportion of businesses reporting at least one vacancy, after it fell to 7% in May 2020, early in the pandemic. By August it was already higher than the start of the pandemic (12%), rising to 15% in November, 18% in February and 22% in May 2021”, Mr Jarvis said.

“Businesses across all industries have reported difficulties in filling vacancies.”

The growth in Australia’s job vacancies over the quarter was concentrated in the private sector, which accounted for 66,000 (96%) of the increase.

Private sector job vacancies increased by 25% over the quarter and were 61% above February 2020. Public sector vacancies rose by 10% over the quarter and were 24% higher than February 2020.

The looming skills shortage is a critical issue and UDIA WA continues to advocate for solutions to ensure we have the right skills and trades to deliver housing and infrastructure projects across the state.

State of the (Older) Nation

New research commissioned by the Federation of nine Councils on the Ageing (COTA) across Australia – including all eight COTA state and territory organisations and COTA Australia has been released, designed to understand the views, life experiences and needs of Australians aged 50+.

The report is the second of the COTA Federation’s State Of The Older Nation (SOTON) reports and tells a story of an older generation often experiencing ageism, who less often perceive themselves as happy, healthy, financially secure or connected to community than the previous report.

The views of Older Australians are also presenting significant challenges to policy makers, with the information presented in this report, and this series intended to inform policy debates now, and into the future.

For more information to read the report in full, click here.

Regional social housing maintenance program grants announced

The State Government has announced the successful applicants for community housing regional maintenance grants to improve housing for some of Western Australia’s most vulnerable people.

The Department of Communities received 51 applications, of which 44 applications with a total value of $771,000 met the criteria for funding. The funding will see much-needed maintenance performed on approximately 140 regional homes.

The Community Housing Organisation Maintenance Grants Program 2021 provides individual grants of up to $20,000 to support community housing organisations and local government authorities. The money will be spent on the maintenance of regional community housing assets and the successful applicants will have until December 31, 2021 to complete the work.

Funded through the $319 million Social Housing Economic Recovery Package (SHERP), the grants program covers a wide range of potential works such as replacing gutters, servicing ovens and hot water systems, fixing fences, replacing damaged kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and replacing damaged flooring.

Under the SHERP program, the McGowan Government will deliver maintenance and refurbishment to thousands of social housing properties. It will also see the delivery of hundreds of new social homes across metropolitan and regional areas to help the most vulnerable people in our community.