Bushfire relief

The team at UDIA WA is deeply saddened by the devastation that has been caused in several states across Australia by the unprecedented bushfires that are severely impacting our communities and our native wildlife.

Amidst the destruction, it has been heartening to see how Australians and indeed our global communities have banded together to support those in need and UDIA WA has made donations to both the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery and WIRES Emergency Fund to support those efforts.

We encourage members to support the relief effort in any way you can.  It will be a long road to recovery for many in our community and our hearts go out to all those that have been impacted by these events.

Minister Tinley responds to push for stimulus

At the end of 2019, Housing Minister Peter Tinley formally responded to a letter sent by UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck on behalf of the joint industry group requesting the state government take measures to stimulate the flagging residential property market.

Within the letter Minister Tinley noted that each of the matters raised in the joint industry letter were important to the McGowan State Government before highlighting ways in which the Government has already or has budgeted to respond to the requests.

Minister Tinley referred to the recently announced $150 million Housing Investment Package for Western Australians striving for home ownership or a quality home to live in as a way of providing more social and affordable housing options for people on low incomes or at risk of homelessness.

He said the package would deliver more than 300 new public housing units targeting homeless and vulnerable people; refurbish 20 regional and 50 metropolitan public housing properties; and create 200 additional shared equity homes.

Other measures Minister Tinley referred to include the increased Keystart income eligibility limits, which will remain in effect until the extended deadline of 30 June 2020 as well as the Government increasing Keystart’s borrowing limit by $472.2 million, which follows a series of approved extensions to extend Keystart’s loan book and will boost its lending capacity to $5.3 billion.

In relation to social housing the Minister highlighted how the METRONET Social and Affordable Housing and Jobs package is creating jobs through contracts for 75 new social housing dwellings being awarded to builders; 12 new social housing dwellings being completed and a further 201 new social housing dwellings being identified for development.

Minister Tinley finished the letter with a concession that a number of the proposals fall outside of his responsibility as Minister for Housing but he had copied in the relevant ministers for their attention.

UDIA appreciates the Minister taking the time to respond to our push for stimulus measures and we will continue to advocate on behalf of members for further stimulus measures to be actioned by the State Government to support the property and development industries and the broader economy.

Streamline WA responds to UDIA WA submission

During December, UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck received a response to our submission on the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Streamline WA Regulatory Reform Proposal.

In the initial submission, sent in March 2019, UDIA WA applauded the Government for establishing Streamline WA and its commitment to improving regulation in WA by having a semi-independent review of existing Government agency regulatory requirements. To ensure the reforms are effective, UDIA requested that an industry working group be established to help guide the reform program and offered three priority areas for consideration by Streamline WA:

  1. State Planning Policy (SPP) 3.7 – Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas, and the trigger of the Australian Standard AS3959 – Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas;
  2. Strategic Assessment of the Perth and Peel Regions (SAPPR) and navigating the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
  3. Regulatory Impact Assessment Guidelines for Western Australia: Housing Affordability Impact Statements.

In response to our submission, Streamline WA General Manager Strategic Policy and Reform Scott Davis highlighted that while some of the issues in the submission fit within Streamline WA’s assessment criteria, several of the issues are being dealt with by other State Government agencies and provided a summary of current reforms underway.

Regarding point one, Mr Davis said the State Government had responded to Dr Buti’s recent report Bushfire Planning and Policy Review; A Review into the Western Australian Framework for Planning and Development in Bushfire Prone Areas by developing an action plan to optimise the planning and building process while considering the bushfire risk to the community. Mr Davis also highlighted that various departments are working jointly on changes to the ‘Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas’ and the supporting bushfire policy framework.

In response to point two, Mr Davis pointed to the Independent Panel appointed by the State Government in 2018 to review the ongoing costs, risks and benefits of SAPPR for Western Australia. Mr Davis said the review was nearing its completion and the Government would consider the report and make an informed decision on whether to proceed with SAPPR.

In regard to navigating the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 more broadly, Premier McGowan announced on 27 November 2019 that he had written to the Prime Minister to request an Environmental Approvals Bilateral Agreement be established to fast track approvals.

Mr Davis also said Streamline WA, in collaboration with DPLH was still investigating housing affordability impact statements and the role of the Housing Advisory Unit within DPLH is to consider housing affordability throughout the development and approval of new or amended policies.

Minister for Environment invites feedback

Last week the Minister for Environment Stephen Dawson sent UDIA WA Director of Policy and Research Chris Green a letter regarding the review into the uncontaminated fill thresholds that took place between November 2018 and August 2019.

Within the letter Minister Dawson said that based on feedback from industry the thresholds had been revised where possible to account for a level of ecological protection that reflects the likely use of fill in residential and industrial developments.

In relation to the use of fill in the development industry, Minister Dawson invited UDIA’s feedback on whether the regulatory amendments have been effective in addressing the uncertainty around the requirement for a licence or liability for the waste levy and asked for comments by February 21, 2020.

Minister Dawson finished the letter by recognising the revision of the uncontaminated fill thresholds and amendments made to Schedule 1 of the Environmental Protection Regulations 1987 and the Landfill Waste Classification and Waste Definitions in April 2018 did not address all of industry’s concerns but that further work is underway to establish a legislative framework to allow for the risk-based reuse of fit-for-purpose waste-derived materials.

UDIA WA will be working on a submission to provide comments on the above to the Minister by the deadline.

December sees UDIA National provide two submissions

In December 2019, UDIA National provided a Pre-Budget Submission for the 2020-21 Commonwealth Budget.

The submission highlights initiatives advanced over the past year that were welcomed by UDIA National including initiatives that support economic growth, housing markets, infrastructure investment and stronger cities.

UDIA National provided recommendations in relation to three core themes including making new housing construction a public policy priority due to the economic significance of the sector; addressing the emerging risk the current state of housing markets poses to economic growth, housing supply and affordability for homebuyers; and prioritising policies which crucially help cut red and green tape, transform inefficient and inequitable taxes and secure better dividends from infrastructure investment.

In addition to this submission, UDIA National also provided a brief submission to the Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities as part of its inquiry into options for financing fast rail.

Within this submission UDIA National recognised the long-term role fast rail can play in improving the productivity, connectivity and liveability of our cities and regions – and it appreciated that the Committee’s work coincides with the formation of the National Fast Rail Agency (NFRA) and allocation of funding for five faster rail business cases.

Prior inquiries by the Commonwealth have contemplated value capture as a potential source of funding. There are clear principles and policy goals UDIA National believes need to inform any consideration of value capture and these have been outlined in the submission.

To view both submissions, click here.

New Home Loan Deposit Gap Scheme welcomed

On January 1 the Commonwealth Government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which provides a guarantee to allow eligible buyers to purchase a home with a deposit as low as five per cent, came into effect and UDIA welcomed the commencement.

In a media statement UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk said the scheme shaves years off the task of saving for a deposit and comes at a crucial time when house prices are beginning to rise once again.

Ms Kirk said UDIA hoped the Government keeps the scope of the scheme under review and looks into whether it is sufficiently motivating new stock being built.

“The initiative needs to be viewed as part of the solution to fixing housing affordability – with increased supply via improvements to land release and approval systems another focus area,” Ms Kirk said.

“We also need to see governments turn their attention to reducing red and green tape, as well as excessive property taxation, that gets baked into the cost of new housing.”

To read the media release in full, click here.

Property Education Foundation needs you

The Property Education Foundation (PEF) is in the process of creating a library of profiles to showcase the different roles that are in the property industry and is looking for more people to get involved.

The library is being created on PEF’s Instagram and Facebook and the profiles are made up of a photo and short bio about the person. The sort of information included in the profile looks into where the person works, their job role, what it entails and the areas of work they deal with.

For more information visit the PEF Instagram page here or contact Becky Hughes: becky@interfaceadvisory.com.au.

We value your feedback!

UDIA is currently working on several submissions on behalf of members. We encourage you to forward any feedback on these items to policy@udiawa.com.au

  • Draft Position Statement: Residential Aged Care (here). Submissions close January 19, 2020.
  • Environmental Protection Act 1986 amendments consultation (here). Submissions close January 28, 2020.
  • Native Vegetation in Western Australia Issues Paper (here). Submissions closes February 10, 2020.