From the CEO

Energy and the environment at times can seem like oil and water.

As our friends in NSW are told to cut their power consumption late in the day due to soaring temperatures and an unstable grid, the debate rages on about the elimination of gas as an energy source and the ‘transition’ necessary to hit net zero aspirations. With rolling blackouts a distinct possibility on the east coast, WA has not been immune from the impacts of grid instability and therefore the $700 million investment by the State Government in upgrading the South West Interconnected System was welcome news.

One has to ponder however how and when this will be achieved given we are struggling to connect newcomers to the grid we already have.

This week we saw a range of environmental approval reforms announced by the Premier following the short sharp review undertaken by Paul Vogel and David McFerran. UDIA WA has long been advocating for a ‘streamlined’ approach and its pleasing to see many of our recommendations reflected in the 39 recommendations put forward to government. I am acutely aware that whilst these reforms assist development, they are largely responding to the behemoth that is our mining sector. The fact that the new Coordinator General overseeing the reforms will be housed in the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation is demonstrative of the true benefactors of these efforts. Nevertheless, a pleasing outcome.

Speaking about oil and water, from an environmental perspective that is an apt metaphor for the State and Federal Government in this space. As UDIA National are locked up as we speak reviewing proposed legislation and regulation for a Federal EPA that at present looks to negate any advantage we have just gained at a State level, there is little consultation or collaboration between the two levels of government on this which is a worrying sign of what we might end up with.

On Tuesday, the UDIA WA President and I met with the Premier to discuss a range of key advocacy issues impacting the provision of housing supply including power infrastructure delays, lack of strategic infrastructure coordination and the realities of getting many medium to high density infill projects to the point of being feasible. As we put the finishing touches to our Pre-Budget Submission, it was a timely opportunity to set the scene for the key funding commitments we will be seeking to ensure we hit the housing supply targets we have committed to.

The energy transition is about making an investment in our future for the sake of the environment. The inconvenient truth is that you can’t save the world if you’re sitting in the dark. And you can’t enjoy economic prosperity in our country without mining.

Oil will always rise above water.

Much-needed overhaul of the environmental approvals system announced

After several years of consistent and strong advocacy on behalf of members, UDIAWA welcomed the State Government announcement this week of new reforms to drive significant improvements to service delivery and reduce complexity and timeframes of environmental assessments and approvals.

The processes and timeframes involved in environmental assessments and approvals, and native vegetation clearing permits, are a major constraint to the timely delivery of crucially needed housing supply.  They also do not support optimal environmental benefits.

The challenges being experienced are a product of the conservative (not risk-based) approach and process over customer-centric and outcomes focused service delivery.  However, they are systemic and ultimately stem from and are compounded by the lack of a strategic, planning-led approach to environmental decision-making.

The recent short, sharp review led by Dr Paul Vogel and David McFerran, which UDIA WA actively participated in, is an important step towards a well over-due and much-needed overhaul of the current system.

The review has made 39 recommendations, which have been accepted or noted by the Cook Government.  Many of the recommendations detailed align with the immediate reforms proposed by UDIA WA to address identified challenges for our members and the broader industry.  These were developed with input from a working group comprising representatives of our Environment Committee and environmental consulting experts.

For more information on these reforms including the full details of what is involved, read our member alert here. Additionally, please feel welcome to reach out to CEO Tanya Steinbeck or Executive Director of Strategy & Policy Sarah Macaulay with any queries.

Government Engagement

This week, UDIA met with the Premier’s and Energy Minister’s Office as well as Western Power to discuss the progress of the industry and Western Power in tracking against the actions which came out of the October Roundtable meeting.

This included discussion around what the latest trends on approvals are showing and how the Land Development DCR Trial is progressing. Other items discussed included complementary reform matters which would assist in timeframes as well as other matters where the support of Government would benefit.

UDIA is looking forward to continuing our efforts in the new year to ensure that critically needed land supply can progress as quickly as possible through the development process and that the voice of industry is heard by Government on these matters.

HAFF Investment Mandate finalised

UDIA has congratulated the Minister for Housing this week on registering the Housing Australia Investment Mandate as the final hurdle to unlocking 50,000 affordable and social houses for Australians in need, under the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) and the National Housing Accord (Accord).

“The HAFF and Accord are critical pieces of the housing affordability puzzle and are a foundation stone towards a nationwide strategy that boosts dwelling supply across the housing continuum,” said Col Dutton, UDIA National President.

The HAFF itself is tasked to deliver 30,000 new social and affordable rental homes within five years and a further 10,000 affordable rental homes will be delivered under the Accord.

The states and territories will match the commitment under the Accord, adding up to another 10,000 new homes across the country.

These are important Government commitments that meaningfully contribute housing supply towards the Government’s ambitious Accord target for 1.2million new homes in five years.

These initiatives will be accompanied by measures to accelerate housing approvals, increase enabling infrastructure and reduce regulation.

Success of Australia’s 1.2 million Accord target for new dwellings, hinges on these measures solving dwelling supply shortages across the entire continuum. The lions share of the Accord target rests with harnessing private housing providers to ramp up at market housing.

“Federal, state and territory Governments are now freed up and can get on with the job of solving fundamental market constraints to ensure the HAFF and Accord are successful – accelerating planning approvals across the whole housing continuum along with the release of more development ready land to boost housing supply and manage affordability.”

“We congratulate the Government for its steadfast focus on ambitious plans to deliver more housing to more Australians than ever before.”

UDIA looks forward to working with Government to make sure housing initiatives continue to provide homes for all Australians.

UDIA National TV with Housing Australia

Last week UDIA hosted a special UDIA TV event featuring a presentation from Housing Australia, the independent national housing authority whose purpose is to improve housing outcomes by helping more Australians to access affordable, safe and secure housing.

Housing Australia’s Chief Credit Officer, Rowena Johnston provided insights on how we can be a part of accelerating Australia’s housing agenda and a snapshot of HA’s strategy for boosting housing supply over the next decade.

For those unable to attend the session, you can view a recording of the presentation, here and you can view the associated slides, here.

Member Survey Winner Announced

UDIA WA would like to pass our congratulations on to Dale Newsome from Western Environmental who was the winner of our $1,000 Crown Voucher following his completion of our member survey.

We would like to extend our thanks to everybody who completed the survey, your feedback is always extremely appreciated and is an integral part of ensuring we are providing the best possible services and advocacy to support our members and their businesses.

UDIA WA Christmas fundraiser

Homes for Homes is UDIA WA’s Charity Partner for 2023-24. This Christmas we would like to encourage our members to make a donation to Homes for Homes by using this unique link.

All donations made using this link will go toward UDIA WA’s Homes for Homes Christmas Fundraiser.

To find out more about Homes for Homes and the fantastic work they do toward ending homelessness by building social and affordable housing, visit here.

Annual Development Conference featuring Mark McGowan

Registrations are now open for the 2024 UDIA WA Annual Development Conference where you will have the opportunity to hear from some of the greatest minds in the State including former Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan for an exclusive first public speaking event since his resignation as Premier.

Western Australia faces no shortage of challenges. Infrastructure, housing, productivity and sticky inflation. Equally, WA is in the box seat to lead the globe in the energy transition and with the healthiest balance sheet in the nation, is uniquely placed to ensure Western Australians benefit from a social, economic and environmental perspective.

In addition to Mr McGowan this event will also feature the insights of Dr Craig Challen, Aaron Morey, Alexander Bruce and more across a comprehensive program, including:

  • Facilitating speed to market to increase housing supply
  • Expanding community and affordable housing
  • WA’s economy and growth prospects
  • Attracting and retaining the construction workforce of the future
  • DA Decision Making – Design Review, DAPs and developing a better Perth
  • Energy, environment and enabling development and more.

This event is your opportunity to be inspired, influence the industry agenda and network with other leaders in the stunning surrounds of the South West.

Held in the picturesque location of Bunker Bay, the Conference brings together industry leaders for three days of informative presentations, discussion and debate.

Registration and accommodation spots are limited so please book in early to avoid missing out! Early bird tickets available until 31 December.

For more information and to book your spot, click here.

Unemployment rate remains steady

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) earlier today revealed a slight rise in the national unemployment rate to 3.9% in November, 0.1% up on the October result.

In Western Australia the unemployment rate saw a marginal drop to 3.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis. WA’s underemployment rate rose 0.1% to 5.8% with the participation rate in WA increasing 0.3% to 69.7%.

Speaking about the national result Bjorn Jarvis, ABS head of labour statistics, said: “With employment increasing by 61,000 people, and the number of unemployed people rising by 19,000, the unemployment rate rose to 3.9% in November.

“The combination of strong growth in both employment and unemployment in November saw the employment-to-population ratio return to a record high of 64.6% and the participation rate reach a new high of 67.2%.

“We have continued to see employment growth keeping pace with high population growth through 2023. The employment-to-population ratio has been high for a long time now, between 64.4% and 64.6% since February 2023, and between 64.3% and 64.6% for the past 18 months.

“Similarly, participation continues to be high. In addition to strong employment growth over the past year, the number of unemployed people has also increased by around 81,000 people, and the unemployment rate has risen by 0.4 percentage points. However, both unemployment measures remain well below their pre-pandemic levels.”

Refer a new member and save!

UDIA WA are providing an opportunity for our members to receive 25% off the cost of a table booking to an Industry Lunch or Breakfast.

The discount is available to members that refer a new company to become a member with UDIA WA, however the discount is only available if the referred company joins by 29 February 2024.

The 25% discount is applicable to a table booking for a UDIA WA Industry Lunch or Breakfast until 30 June 2024.

New members that join before 29 February 2024 will have the joining fee waived.

For more information, contact

UDIA National Congress Study Tours

This week UDIA released details of the Study Tours available to attend during the 2024 UDIA National Congress in Melbourne.

The tours take place on Tuesday 19 March from 1-5pm with a choice of four tours available.

The first tour is the infill development tour which will visit two outstanding examples of masterplanned communities that have been delivered in existing suburbs, located within 20km of Melbourne’s CBD. Both Burwood Brickworks by Frasers and Tullamore by Mirvac represent thriving communities with a range of housing types and facilities.

The second tour is focusing on alternate housing models and will Tour projects delivered by two Australian developers who are working to deliver alternate housing to meet the needs of a growing wave of Australians who are looking for a different approach to housing. Nightingale Village and Assemble’s 38 Albermarle Street offer two different housing models, both designed to provide an alternative path to homeownership.

The third tour is the multi unit residential tour that will visit two outstanding multi-unit residential projects, both of which offer a range of typologies and facilities to cater for a range of buyers. Moonee Valley Park by Hamton and Glenvill’s Yarrabend offer an insight into the quality and diversity of housing options available.

The fourth and final tour will focus on build to rent and will allow attendees to experience what Build to Rent projects are bringing to Australia’s changing housing landscape in a tour of The Briscoe by Sentinel Australia and LIV Aston by Mirvac. Understand what sets Build to Rent apart from the traditional build to sell approach, and the value of this emerging asset class for investors and renters.

The program for the 2024 UDIA National Congress, to be held in Melbourne, is building nicely with several high-profile speakers including Luci Ellis, Nathan Del Bon, Mark Farmer, Jennifer Keesmaat and Dean Boxall already confirmed to inspire and engage at the national event.

For your chance to attend one of these tours make sure you register to attend the 2024 UDIA National Congress in Melbourne by booking here.

Government unveils pathway to net zero

Earlier this week the State Government announced details of dozens of initiatives designed to drive decarbonisation and underpin Western Australia’s path to net zero emissions.

The Sectoral Emissions Reduction Strategy (SERS) lists credible pathways towards emissions reduction throughout WA’s economy, including in the electricity, transport, building, waste, and agriculture sectors.

These actions include:

  • Unlocking additional investment in renewable energy in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS), WA’s main energy grid;
  • Facilitating decarbonisation of mining in the Pilbara through common-use infrastructure and the creation of renewable generation hubs in consultation with affected communities, including Traditional Owners;
  • Expediting approval of priority electricity transmission infrastructure through dedicated resourcing within the State Government’s green approvals team;
  • Developing a Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage action plan;
  • Increasing the public sector electric vehicle (EV) target to at least 50 per cent of all new fleet purchases; and
  • Funding installation of additional EV charging stations at new METRONET train stations.

The Bill requires the setting of interim targets as well as development of strategies and plans to reduce emissions and create a pathway for decarbonising the economy.

Read more on SERS here.