From the CEO

Only two things in life are certain; death and taxes.*

*N.B. The definition of taxes as written above incorporates slugging the development industry for doing the heavy lifting in providing the vast majority of this country’s desperately needed housing supply and much of the necessary infrastructure to facilitate it. 

Let’s consider the cumulative impact of the woeful history of adequately and transparently administering and delivering infrastructure funded by developers through DCPs, then add to that the latest trend of funding overly complex policy & regulation to meet government or political objectives (cost recovery) to the cost to deliver a new dwelling.

In today’s context, then pile on the additional cost of construction as a result of skills and materials shortages. Oh and one more thing, the time it takes to navigate the ‘system’ to get housing to market and the holding costs associated with that.

Applying the ‘user pays’ principle in a housing supply context is flawed. If we accept that housing is a fundamental human need and requirement of our society and that new housing developed by industry is adding to the overall supply asset base – how does that qualify as a cost or depleting a resource?

The user pays principle requires that prices reflect the full social cost of use or depletion of a resource. If one wants to point out the infrastructure cost associated with accommodating population growth, we’ve got that covered too (refer to N.B. above). Or if we are defining user pays by depleting public sector administration resources, there’s a good incentive to cut red-tape and stop creating the need for more.

Just in the last 12 months, industry is now paying more for the privilege of navigating the Environmental Protection Act, the soon to be rolled out Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act and just this week – public open space contributions for infill. All based on ‘user pays’.

The Productivity Commission in August 2022 released its appropriately harsh review of the National Housing & Homelessness Agreement claiming it has been “a funding contract – not a blueprint for reform”. Here’s what the report has to say about ‘user pays’:

The timely delivery of infrastructure is critical to unlocking new housing supply. Local governments can lack the financial capacity, or be unwilling to borrow, to fund infrastructure — greater use of debt financing could help to address infrastructure bottlenecks. While a user-pays approach to funding local infrastructure can be efficient and equitable, governments should not use developer charges to cost-shift the funding of general community services onto new home owners.

Hats off to you Productivity Commission. I’ll just add a small note about the additional funds handed to the local government rates base when the development industry takes the risk to provide that often ‘poorly located’ infill.

Out of 1 million dwellings across WA, just 42,615 or 4.26 per cent are social housing according to the 2021 Census. The balance has been delivered by the private sector and will continue to be.

If we keep travelling down this user pays path of cost recovery to deliver a basic human need, I predict another certainty in life. Unattainable housing.

UDIA National advocacy update on HAFF

Since January, UDIA WA has been supporting UDIA National’s advocacy efforts on the delivery and implementation of the Housing Affordability Future Fund (HAFF).

During this time UDIA National has been engaged across all sides of politics and government agencies (Labor, Liberal, Greens, Nationals, Independents, ASIC, National Land Supply and Affordability Council, State land bodies as well as Federal Treasury) to ensure:

  1. There is vital analysis on the capacity of the HAFF, the capacity of the market and a pathway for optimal use of HAFF funds to deliver affordable and social housing by community housing providers and private housing providers in coordination with Government.
  2. Make sure the undertaking to deliver a million homes in the next five years under the Accord, means all projects including affordable and social housing, need to be evaluated on whether they promote an enhanced mix of at-market (as well as affordable and social housing) for a balanced and diverse housing market that hits the target.
  3. Provide a conduit to all sides of politics to effectively establish the HAFF and UDIA National is currently involved in discussions across the parties.

To read this update in full click here

Help break the cycle of homelessness with UDIA WA

Next week UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck will once again be participating in the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout alongside a UDIA WA team including various State Councillors and UDIA WA members and you can help support their cause with a small donation that can make a big difference.

This year the team is aiming to raise $30,000 to support homelessness initiatives but we cannot do it without your support. Will you help us reach our target? Donating $100 can make a huge difference to people who need it most.

To support the team’s efforts this year you can donate here.

Policy Team In Action

This week we held the Environment Strategic Committee meeting where discussions around both State and Federal Environmental legislative changes and UDIA WA’s proactive work with Government on reform pieces occurred.

Key matters included:

  • Discussion around carbon footprint mapping and the evolving importance of ESG reporting within the industry;
  • UDIA WA’s input on the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act changes;
  • Updates on the Committee’s work on the Environmental Assessment and Approvals Process Review; and
  • The upcoming submission on SPP 3.7 – Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas, due Monday, 17 July.

Just two weeks before nominations close

There are just two weeks left for companies and individuals to enter into the 2023 UDIA WA Awards for Excellence.

This year’s awards program features a variety of new and improved categories that encompass the entire development industry.

One of the newly introduced categories this year is the Design category that recognises excellence in design (predominantly residential, ie. small lot housing, villas, town houses, terrace homes, row housing, apartment buildings).

There is no requirement for the project to be completed or under construction but the conceptual design/work behind it should be substantially developed, particularly in relation to solutions to a challenge or specific requirement, building structure and aesthetics.

For more information about this category and all of the different categories available to enter this year including Residential Subdivision, Sustainability, Boutique Development and many more, click here to view the Nominations Kit.

To start your entry, click here.

2 days left to complete Property Undergraduate Degree Survey

The Property Undergraduate Degree Survey by Curtin University’s School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (SAEF) Property Advisory Panel closes on Saturday 17 June so get in quick to complete it before it is too late.

Conducted as a partnership between the Australian Property Institute, Urban Development Institute of Australia WA, the Property Council of Australia WA and Curtin University, the survey is designed to capture the views of property professionals who are working with recent university graduates (up to 5 years in industry). It focuses on graduates’ readiness for work and their understanding of the knowledge fields required for accreditation by relevant industry bodies. Findings from this survey will inform improvements to relevant Property courses in the tertiary sector.

The online survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) has approved this study (HRE2023-0027).

To participate, please click on the link here. The survey closes on 17 June 2023.

EPBC Environmental Reform

UDIA WA has been supporting UDIA National on various responses as part of the EPBC reforms.

In recent weeks, UDIA National has been making good progress on the EPBC Environmental reforms following a number of meetings with the Minister for the Environment’s office, the Department of Environment and all the affected peak bodies.

See below for a brief overview of some of the accomplishments so far with many of the submissions supported by advocacy work done by UDIA WA and our Environment Strategic Committee and relevant Standing Advisory Groups.

  1. UDIA National Negotiations – EPBC Cost Recovery. UDIA National has negotiated with the Minister for Environment’s Office that an excessive quantum on a user pays system will deeply impact housing affordability and must be avoided.
  2. UDIA National Submission – EPBC Nature Repair Market Inquiry. UDIA National agrees with the concept of a nature repair market and have provided detailed recommendations on issues to avoid so the system does not become unwieldy
  3. UDIA National Submission – EPBC Environmental Standards. UDIA National confirmed the members agreed with the concepts (largely an adoption of previous ideas) however the Environmental Standards need to be improved through, tighter definitions, legislated objectives that balance business and environment, clearly laid out processes.
  4. UDIA National Submission(s) – Real time EPBC approval delays. UDIA National has been keeping the Minister’s office up to date on current problems being created in the EPBC assessment and approvals process, by virtue of the ongoing reform and transition.
  5. Develop Informal EPBC workshops.  UDIA National is in the process of setting up EPBC workshops with Government to ensure the EPBC rules/processes are appropriate for the Development and construction industry rather than only large mining and forestry projects.

Draft Public Open Space Policy released for public comment

Amidst the current housing crisis that is impacting Western Australia, the State Government has released a draft Public Open Space Policy that, if implemented, will impact the viability of infill projects and housing affordability.

UDIA WA will be delivering a response on behalf of our members to the Draft Operational Policy 2.3: Planning for Public Open Space that was released for comment on Friday 9 June and we invite our members to provide feedback for inclusion in our formal submission.

In summary, the draft policy applies 10 per cent Public Open Space requirement across all urban areas, with cash-in-lieu to apply if land cannot be ceded.

For more information on the Draft Public Open Space Policy, click here

Better and more efficient Infrastructure investment

As part of the Development Ready Pipeline project, through our Economic Committee and engagement with members, UDIA WA is progressing a piece of work to identify strategic infrastructure requirements to unlock land in key growth areas across Perth and Peel. This work will be used to advocate for Federal Government funding, supporting work by UDIA National.

UDIA National will be advising on the Urban Policy Reference Group and will also press for:

  1. infrastructure transforming initiatives including the Development Ready Land Pipeline Metric.
  2. NHHA incentives for infrastructure.
  3. a Federal Accelerated Infrastructure Grant.
  4. major infrastructure to be tied to housing.

UDIA WA will continue to keep members updated on the outcomes of the above and any relevant results from the Development Ready Pipeline and associated works.

MNG launches Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan

This week MNG announced the official launch of their Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.

Central to the Reflect RAP is MNG’s commitment to listening, learning, and engaging with First Nations peoples. The plan’s development was a collaborative effort, with extensive consultations conducted in partnership with Reconciliation Australia and Elevate Diversity, along with the invaluable guidance of Aboriginal Consultant, Christine Ross. Through these consultations, MNG gained valuable insights that have shaped the Reflect RAP into a comprehensive and culturally sensitive framework that guides the company in creating positive change and fostering cultural awareness within its organisation.

In announcing its Reflect RAP MNG extended its gratitude to First Nations Contemporary Artist, Brenda Mau, who created the artwork that will accompany the Reflect RAP. Mau’s ability to merge traditional symbolism and with contemporary elements has produced a visually stunning representation of MNG’s business, embodying the themes of reflection and unity.

The launch of the Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan is a significant step forward for MNG as it commits to building a more inclusive, respectful, and reconciled future.

For more information, click here.

UDIA WA extends our congratulations to MNG on the announcement of its Reflect RAP as we continue on our own journey towards our Reflect RAP. This work is being led by our RAP Working Group and we welcome greater member involvement in the process. If you are interested in joining our working group, reach out to Gemma Osiejak on for more information.

Calling all Young Professionals

Each year the UDIA WA Stockland Young Development Professional Award recognises one of the future leaders in the industry.  Previous recipients have gone on to become some of the biggest and most influential leaders in our industry.

Previous recipients include current UDIA WA Vice Presidents Jane Bennett and Jeremy Cordina and UDIA WA State Council Member Justine Roberts GAICD among a host of other key figures within the industry including Ryan Hunter AFAIM, Dion Warnock, Clay Thomas, current Outlook UDIA Committee Chair Fenualla O’Brien as well as Renee Gumina and Rachel Ezzard, both of whom went on to win the Young Leaders Award at the UDIA National Awards for Excellence.

There are just two weeks left to enter so if you are a Young Professional making waves in the development industry or you know someone who should be nominate, click here for more information. Nominations close on 30 June 2023.

To find out more about the impact the Young Development Professional Award has had on industry, check out our exclusive article in the 50th Anniversary special edition of The Urbanist, here.

Be part of the change

Each year the UDIA WA Women in Leadership Award recognises the incredible work ongoing in the development industry by some of our most instrumental leaders.

Previous recipients include Tiffany Allen, Tamara Smith, Jane Bennett, Tamara Heng, Vivienne Edwards, Tanya Steinbeck and most recently Tanya Trevisan GAICD who we featured in the cover story of a recent edition of The Urbanist exploring diversity and inclusion in the development industry.

To read this article, click here and if you know of somebody who should be recognised by this award or would like to enter the 2023 Women in Leadership Award, click here for more information. Nominations close on 30 June 2023.

Fall in unemployment rate highlights hot labour market

The unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 3.6 per cent in May (seasonally adjusted), according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) with Western Australia’s unemployment rate rising marginally to sit at 3.7% a 0.1% increase.

Bjorn Jarvis, ABS head of labour statistics, said: “with [national] employment increasing by around 76,000 people and the number of unemployed decreasing by 17,000 people, the unemployment rate fell to 3.6 per cent.

“The strong growth in employment in May followed a small decrease in April, around Easter, when employment fell by more than it usually would over the holiday period.

“Looking over the past two months, the employment increases average out to around 36,000 extra employed people each month. This is still around the average over the past year of 39,000 people a month.”

The increase in employment in May also saw the number of employed people in Australia reach 14 million for the first time.

WA’s rate of 3.7% is second lowest of all States alongside Victoria and only behind NSW’s 3.0%, however WA’s underemployment rate rose 0.7% to sit at 6.4%, the third lowest State figure behind NSW’s 6.2% and Victoria’s 5.8%.

Government announces first round of Infrastructure Development Fund

This week the State Government announced $6.53 million will be provided in the first round of its Infrastructure Development Fund that will see more than 600 new apartments across 12 separate projects receive funding.

The Infrastructure Development Fund was set up in an attempt to address the upfront cost associated with connecting essential infrastructure such as water, electricity, and sewerage.

Successful applicants will receive a rebate of up to $10,000 for each apartment in a multiple-dwelling complex, with the funding to be provided directly to the infrastructure provider.

The Infrastructure Development Fund opened for applications in March this year, with funding available for metropolitan and regional housing projects across three program streams.

Funding has been allocated equally, with $40 million available for Perth developments in priority infill areas – such as METRONET station precincts and Housing Diversity Pipeline sites – and $40 million available for worker accommodation opportunities in regional areas.

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is administering the fund. Applications are open until 6 September 2024, or until funds are exhausted.

For eligibility guidelines and to apply, visit here.

Landgate launch new website

Landgate has today launched a new, more efficient and customer-focused website ensuring a better online experience for its three million website visitors each year.

The new website of Western Australia’s land information authority was created to better serve its customers with faster access to popular products and services, improved site search and multi-device accessibility, and a new ‘one-stop-shop’ for strata titles information.

The new-look features, information and functionality were shaped by customer feedback and enquiries received over a two-year period and underpinned by upgraded technology and stringent accessibility practices.

A new customer Help Centre has been integrated into the website and offers customised support for Landgate’s major customer groups, helping them to find what they need faster.

Recognising the popularity of strata living which continues to grow in WA, the new website features a significantly expanded suite of information and resources for community-wide strata participants.

The agency’s subscription-based online services, MyLandgate and Land Enquiry Services are unchanged by the new website available here.

Applications now open for WA heritage grants

Owners of State Registered Heritage Places can now apply for grants to conserve their properties, develop heritage conservation plans, cultural landscape plans or feasibility studies.

The $1.221 million program includes projects that aim to revitalise heritage places – encouraging people to rediscover and enjoy history – and projects that proactively respond to natural disasters, support economic recovery, and create local or State jobs.

The 2023-24 Heritage Grants Program budget is $1.221 million, with $1 million allocated for the State Heritage Grants funding stream, and the balance allocated for the Community Heritage Grants stream.

Eligible not-for-profit organisations, businesses and local governments are encouraged to apply for the Community Heritage Grants that assist innovative community engagement activities or interpretation projects that promote or celebrate a State Registered Heritage Place or local heritage listed place.

Last year’s Heritage Grants Program attracted 45 applications, with 32 for the State Heritage Grants stream and 13 for the Community Heritage Grants stream. Thirty-eight grants were offered in total.

To apply for the 2023-24 Heritage Grants Program, visit here. Applications close on Friday, 4 August 2023.