UDIA supports opposition to block foreign buyer’s tax

UDIA is supportive of the opposition parties plan to block state legislation introducing a Foreign Owners Duty Surcharge (or ‘foreign buyer’s tax’) in Western Australia effective January 2019.

UDIA has advised that the introduction of a 7% surcharge on foreign buyers will jeopardise the property market recovery and negatively impact broader economic growth.

Our statement outlines the importance of the health of the property market to the economy and also reinforces the competitive advantage that a current lack of surcharge provides us over other states in Australia.

UDIA’s media release on the subject can be found here. We have also collaborated with REIWA in drafting a letter to the state government outlining our reasons for the need to cancel plans to introduce the surcharge.

State government plan to attract more international students

While on the one hand the government is introducing a policy to limit foreign buyers, they are seeking to encourage more international students to study in WA.

Despite the recognised importance of these students to the economy, WA’s student numbers are declining while states including South Australia and even Tasmania are attracting increasing numbers.

The government is introducing a Graduate Skilled Migration List to attract more international students and help grow Western Australia’s share of the international education market.

The government will give high achieving education graduates – PhD, Masters, Honours and other higher degree graduates – a pathway to skilled migration, providing more of an incentive to study in WA. The existing Skilled Migration Occupation List will not be affected, with the policy of not including occupations such as bricklayers, electricians and mechanics remaining in place.

UDIA supports moves to attract more international students to WA in order to provide an economic boost to the state, however we believe that policies across the board, including the foreign buyers surcharge need to be consistent in that aim.

The government has also allocated $2 million to develop an International Education Strategy, which is expected to be announced later this year.

UDIA releases latest land market figures

New land sales in Perth are up 3.8% for the June quarter with close to 1500 lots sold in the region according to the latest Urban Development Index (UDI). This is the third consecutive quarterly lift in sales volumes.

While there has been a lift in sales volumes, prices are still slightly down this quarter, although that trend is unlikely to continue for much longer. The average price of new lots sold in Perth is down a minor 1.7% for the quarter to $230,825.

With developers expecting to bring less land on to the market in the next 12 months, we are expecting declining stock levels will lead to moderate price increases over the next year.

The full report including a breakdown on current market conditions across each local government area is available to UDIA members only here.

UDIA Council meeting rundown

Your UDIA Council met last night to discuss a range of issues relevant to the development industry.  One of the top items on the agenda this month was a discussion around further actions that the institute can take, in conjunction with other groups, to stimulate property sales activity.

A range of ideas were put forward that will be considered in more detail in the coming weeks including meeting with industry groups such as REIWA, CCI, HIA and MBA to discuss common issues and how we can collaborate and take action; meeting with relevant government representatives to highlight conditions as well as writing to the Premier and Treasurer; and bringing the issue to the Federal Government’s attention including Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities.

Other items on the Council agenda included amendments to the UDIA Constitution to modernise the rules to reflect the emerging changes in UDIA’s membership base; the recruitment process for the appointment of a new UDIA WA CEO given Allison Hailes recent resignation; endorsement of amendments to the UDIA Standing Advisory Committees terms of reference; the adoption of updated policy position statements; UDIA’s submission to the Strategic Assessment of Perth and Peel along with submissions on the Planning Reform Green Paper and the Market-Led Proposals Policy.

UDIA has also written to the federal Minister for Environment requesting a review of regulation 7.02 of Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 20 and the rescinding of the decision to include the Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain as ‘endangered’ on the threatened ecological communities list.

Market led proposals

UDIA recently made a submission on behalf of members on the state government’s draft Market-led Proposals Policy and the accompanying Supplementary Guidelines. In our submission, UDIA strongly supported the proposal and the commitment to creating new opportunities that allow the private sector to work more collaboratively with government to enhance our communities and the economy by delivering new development and jobs.

Despite our support for the introduction of such a policy, UDIA outlined concerns regarding the overly guarded and cautious nature of the proposed assessment framework, stating that it may limit the successful uptake of market-led proposals (MLP).

The evaluation process and its multiple assessment layers adds considerable risk to proposals, undermining the intent of the policy. Our full submission is available here.

Unemployment down

The Western Australian unemployment rate has declined for a fourth straight month to 6% (seasonally adjusted) according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

More details here.

Perth drops in Liveability ranking

Mid-sized cities in wealthier countries performed well in the latest Liveability Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit.  The annual survey, which considers 30 factors related to safety, health care, educational resources, infrastructure and the environment, found that six of the top ten scoring cities are in Australia and Canada, which have very low population densities (3.2 and 4 people per square kilometre respectively).

However, Perth did not make the top 10, with Vienna taking out top spot, followed by Melbourne, Osaka, Calgary, Sydney, Vancouver, Toronto, Tokyo, Copenhagen and Adelaide.

Perth fell seven places to number 14 on the index. The report suggests that Perth’s actual liveability score has not fallen, rather the ranking had only dropped because it had been overtaken by other cities.

Western Power: Changes to the Distribution Substation Manual (DSM)

Section 3 – Substation arrangements of the Distribution Substation Manual (DSM) has been updated and is now available on the Western Power website.

The update to this section of the manual also marks the start of transition of the DSM into two separate manuals. This published version will be the interim DSM for the next few months, after which the manual will be split into two, the Distribution Substation Plant Manual (DSPM) and the Distribution Customer Connection Requirements (DCCR) manual.

More information in the Western Power bulletin here.

Container deposit scheme initiative

The McGowan Government wants to implement a Container Deposit Scheme from early 2020. The CDS will aim to reduce litter, increase recycling, protect the environment and help engage the community in active and positive recycling behaviours.

A consultation regulation impact statement for the CDS is open for a four-week comment period from 13 August until 10 September 2018.

Cost recovery: DWER

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) is seeking feedback on the implementation of a cost recovery approach for the assessment of applications made under Part V of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act) and Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 (RIWI Act).

Specifically, the department is interested in hearing from stakeholders and the community on cost recovery for the assessment of applications for native vegetation clearing permits and applications for water licences and permits.

More information here.

Odyssey at Beaumaris Beach

Plans for a multigenerational lifestyle village on the coast in Iluka took another step forward last week with Brightwater Care Group entering into the contract to purchase the high-profile development site.

With contracts now having been signed over the ocean front site on the corner of Burns Beach Road and Fernando Parkway, the not-for-profit organisation has partnered with and engaged boutique developer OP Properties to project manage the development.

Plans for the site include Odyssey Residences at Beaumaris Beach, a proposed $40million development consisting of 58 private residences to be operated by Brightwater Care Group.

For more info on the development visit here

Carrots and concrete a strong mix?

Engineers at Lancaster University are working with industrial partners at Cellucomp Ltd UK to research how concrete mixtures can be strengthened and made more environmentally friendly by adding ‘nano platelets’ extracted from the fibres of root vegetables.

The work will build on findings from early tests that have demonstrated that concrete mixtures including nano platelets from sugar beet or carrot significantly improve the mechanical properties of concrete.

These vegetable-composite concretes were also found to out-perform all commercially available cement additives, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes and at a much lower cost.

Final results are about two years away, more information here

UDIA on social media

UDIA is dedicated to providing members with the most up to date and relevant information across a range of platforms so that you can get information via the most convenient channel for you.  Members can follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to get information and updates on a regular basis and engage in conversation about the latest industry issues.

UDIA Outlook also have a Showcase Page which is focused on encouraging young professionals to participate in conversations about industry relevant issues and engage with fellow professionals within the industry.  Check it out here.