UDIA In Action

This has been a week like no other for WA with the Premier’s announcement of a snap lockdown on Sunday and then the unfolding bushfire crisis in Perth’s north east. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the bushfire and we wish everybody the very best and hope they can all stay safe.

The Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief has launched the Wooroloo and Hills Bushfire 2021 Appeal for anyone wishing to donate to help those who have been affected by the ongoing fire. For more information and to donate, click here.

Our members will be aware that the announcement of the lockdown has unfortunately forced the postponement of our highly anticipated Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner. We are currently working on a revised date which we will share as soon as we have confirmation on restrictions moving forward.

Despite the challenges, like most in the industry UDIA has continued with business as usual, albeit remotely. On Wednesday UDIA met with representatives from PIA to discuss ongoing advocacy collaboration, initially considering climate change and community education regarding the benefits of increased housing choice and infill development.

This week has also seen the successful re-implementation of virtual policy committee meetings as the Environment committee met on Tuesday and the Infrastructure committee met this morning. This afternoon our Modern Methods of Construction Steering Group will hold a virtual meeting and tomorrow morning the Urban Water committee.

Regardless of what happens with the lockdown tomorrow, the UDIA WA team are available via phone or email and we continue to represent our members on the issues that matter.

“The Year That Was and Onto 2021”

COVID-19 has forced us all to change our habits, in ways large and small. Right across the industry, the way we interact on work sites, in sales centres and all parts of our businesses has shifted.

Life will remain challenging until a vaccine is widely available, but we look forward to the prospect of recovery and rejuvenation in 2021.

To read the latest update from our UDIA National President Simon Basheer, click here.

Extensive report into UDIA-funded research

This week WA Business News featured a comprehensive article focused on research that UDIA WA commissioned late last year into the funding of community infrastructure.

Len Kosova (LK Advisory Pty Ltd) and Darren Cooper (Development Capital Management Pty Ltd) were tasked with the challenge of investigating the status of 54 Developer Contribution Plans across 10 local government authorities in Western Australia. Their investigation resulted in a comprehensive report that included a detailed audit of funds held.

The resulting recommendations are focused on consistency, transparency and better guidance for local governments in the management of DCP’s. We hope that when the updated SPP 3.6 is released by the WAPC in the coming weeks, it will address these issues effectively.

UDIA WA is committed to working collaboratively with industry and all levels of government to ensure a fair and equitable process for the funding and delivery of local infrastructure for the benefit of new home buyers.

Read the full article from WA Business News here and download the presentation outlining all the findings and recommendations here.

Low rates to stay until 2024

At the first Monetary Policy meeting for the year, the Reserve Bank of Australia board chose to maintain the cash rate at 0.1%.  The RBA Governor Philip Lowe further stated at a presentation to the National Press Club this week that they current low rates are likely remain until at least 2024.

The RBA is also purchasing an additional $100 billion of bonds issued by the Australian Government and states and territories when the current bond purchase program is completed in mid-April. These additional purchases will be at the current rate of $5 billion a week.

UDIA has welcomed the announcement regarding the longer term hold on rates, as we hope this will provide further confidence (along with a range of other factors) in WA’s longer-term residential property market recovery and will encourage much needed investors back into the market.

For more information, read UDIA WA’s media release here.

Are New Technologies Changing the Nature of Work?

A new research piece by the Institute for Research on Public Policy looking at how technology is potentially changing the way we work, has been released.

In recent years, groundbreaking advances in artificial intelligence and their implications for automation technology have fuelled speculation that the very nature of work is being altered in unprecedented ways. News headlines regularly refer to the “changing nature of work,” but what does it mean? Is there evidence that work has already been transformed by the new technologies? And if so, are these changes more dramatic than those experienced before?

This paper aims to respond to these questions and focuses mainly on two aspects of work: the mix of work activities (or tasks) that constitute a job, and the mix of jobs in the economy. If new automation technologies are indeed changing the nature of work, the authors argue, then non-automatable tasks should be increasingly important, and employment should be shifting toward occupations primarily involving such tasks.

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

Interim R-Codes set to commence in July

The Schedule of Amendments to State Planning Policy 7.3 Residential Design Codes Volume 1 for Gazettal on Friday 2 July 2021 were released this week.

The amendments within the notification include a number of clauses replaced including the removal of the increased outdoor living area provisions, which should assist industry.

To read the notification in full, click here.

Private house approvals reach record high in December

Private sector house approvals rose for the sixth consecutive month in December, seasonally adjusted, and reached a record high according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this week.

The total number of dwellings approved rose 10.9% in December nationally. Dwelling approvals rose across all states, in seasonally adjusted terms. Tasmania led the way, rising 66.5%, followed by Queensland (24.0%), South Australia (16.7%), Victoria (8.6%), Western Australia (7.8%) and New South Wales (1.8%).

Approvals for private sector houses also rose in all states in December; South Australia (33.6%), Victoria (17.2%), New South Wales (16.2%), Queensland (7.5%) and Western Australia (5.3%).

The value of total building approved rose 4.9% in December, in seasonally adjusted terms. The value of non-residential building drove the increase, rising 10.1%, having fallen 27.7% in November.

The value of total residential building increased 2.3%, comprising a 1.4% rise in new residential building, and an 8.1% increase in alterations and additions. The value of residential alterations and additions reached a record high in December.

Sustainable housing research investment

It was announced this week that the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre would receive a $50,000 science grant from the State Government.

The funding will enable the centre to continue a number of research projects that focus on a range of topics, including investigating ways to improve liveability and environmental performance of social and affordable housing, as well as developing sustainable procurement practices and innovations to reduce costs and extend the useful life of the State’s social housing.

The Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre, which was established in 2010 and is headquartered at Curtin University, is the successor to the Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation.

Virtual Power Plants to become a reality in WA-first

Project Symphony, an initiative that will demonstrate how large numbers of batteries, rooftop solar panels and large appliances (such as air conditioners and electric hot water systems) can be co-ordinated into a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) was announced this week.

VPPs combine individual systems to create community-scale systems that help balance electricity supply and demand. For example, if there is excess power being generated by rooftop solar systems in a community, it can be managed through storing energy and adjusting how much energy is being used.

Southern River, where almost 50% of households have rooftop solar, will host Western Australia’s largest VPP with over 500 households and businesses expected to participate.

Project Symphony is expected to provide immediate benefits for Western Power’s network and pave the way for more innovative use of VPPs across WA’s main electricity grid.

The project is being developed by Western Power and Synergy, working together with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Energy Policy WA.

Project Symphony will build on previous projects and trials by Synergy and Western Power and will benefit from the experience of Horizon Power’s Onslow Renewable Energy Pilot. It will also use learnings from AEMO’s VPP trials in the Eastern States, adapted for local conditions.