From the CEO

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.”

There’s at least $300,000 apparently when it comes to tweaking the name of government departments, with the not at all anticipated or necessary rebrand of the Department of Energy, Mines, Regulation, Industry Regulation and Safety raised in Parliament this week being considered of ‘high strategic impact’. As a keen monitor of new acronyms to hit the streets of WA, I’ve had to make a big shift from DMIRS to DEMIRS this week which will take some getting used to.

What I can’t quite get my head around is the stated priority the Government places on energy, when getting a new development energised or even cleared for title so that we can in some way make a dent into our ever-growing housing crisis comes a distant second to making it appear by name that we have placed energy at the top of the priority pile.

For this extra ‘E’ to have true high strategic impact, it would need to change the way we plan, design, approve and deliver energy infrastructure and have far greater reach than just the one Department. Aside from the obvious and urgent issues surrounding flicking on the power switch to new homes already being built, one should consider investing in an ‘E’volution of strategic investment and forward planning of our lead infrastructure. So we don’t end up in this mess again, or in fact ever make our way out of it.

I reckon it could be done without spending $300,000 and adding any further length to an acronym, although I could be underestimating the task.

As the Federal Government has discovered having released the findings of the Independent Strategic Review of the Infrastructure Investment Program, prioritising infrastructure that does not demonstrate any merit or strategic rationale nor align with broader investment priorities is a multi-billion dollar mistake. Add to that lack of transparency and an ad-hoc approach to managing cost escalations and delivery delays – I think they are in need of an extra ‘E’ too.

At the end of the day, no one cares if there is an extra letter in a name. What they do care about, is a roof over their head and being able to turn the lights on. If we can achieve those two things consistently when needed, we will all come up smelling like roses.

NHP Report launch

This afternoon UDIA WA are pleased to be hosting an exclusive event launching the pilot report for UDIA’s National Housing Pipeline (NHP).

In mid-2022, UDIA initiated an innovative new project to develop and deploy a nationally consistent and robust methodology to measure and analyse the forward availability and readiness of land for the development of new housing in Australia’s mainland capital cities over the forthcoming 15 years.

The pilot of UDIA’s NHP project has been undertaken over the past year for the Perth and Peel region. This has informed the national pilot program, which is now being rolled out with an anticipated launch of mid-2024.

The rich industry and market intelligence generated by the NHP is intended to complement existing State and Federal government housing supply and forecasting programs, such as the WA Government’s Urban Growth Monitor and Housing Australia’s State of the nation’s Housing reporting.

Following the launch of the report at this afternoon’s event UDIA WA will share the report exclusively with our members in the coming days.

Amended ACH Act

This week the amended Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 came into effect along with all of the associated regulations following the repeal of the 2021 Act.

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage’s website (here) has been updated and ACHknowledge was reopened following a closure to assist the transition period between the two Acts. The website includes links to Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Inquiry System (ACHIS) and ACHknowledge and the final Applicant Guidelines and Consultation Policy.

To assist with enquiries DPLH have provided the following documents:

  • A stakeholder kit with key information, draft website or email copy and useful information and tips relating to ACHknowledge, available here; and
  • Frequently Asked Questions available here.

If you have any specific queries or require further information, head to the DPLH ACH website here.

UDIA National Congress Speaker announcement: Jennifer Keesmaat

UDIA are pleased to announce the first of our keynote speakers for the upcoming UDIA National Congress in Melbourne as Jennifer Keesmaat has been confirmed to lead the session on Diversity and Affordability: The challenge affecting our city.

In order to deliver housing choice and diversity, affordability is often sacrificed. Learn how international cities are delivering homes, in the right location, and at the right price.

Jennifer Keesmaat is an urban planner named one of the “most powerful people in Canada” by Macleans, one of the “most influential” by Toronto Life, and one of the top Women of Influence in Canada. She spent half a decade as Toronto’s Chief City Planner, where she was celebrated for her forward thinking and collaborative approach to city-building. Keesmaat is a founding partner of Markee Developments. With veteran developer Jason Marks, she is now developing new communities across the GTA as sustainable, liveable places that prioritize access to high quality, affordable rental housing.

A Distinguished Visitor in Residence Emeritus at the University of Toronto, Keesmaat continues to share her vision for cities of the future, through a variety of publications including The Guardian, Foreign Affairs, Macleans, The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and on her podcast, Invisible City. Keesmaat is the Chief Architect of the 2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian Cities, which is a blueprint for adapting cities post Covid19.

Keesmaat is on the Advisory Board of the Urban Land Institute, Toronto, and is appointed to the International Panel of Experts, Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority. Jennifer is on the Board of Directors for May Mobility, and is on the President’s Planning and Growth Advisory Board for Ohio State University.

Book your ticket to Congress here but be quick as Congress ticket prices increase on 1st December when the early bird ticket rate ends. Act fast to save $330 off your Congress Ticket.

Limited Accommodation for Congress dates still available. Secure these at the same time as booking your Congress and National Awards tickets.

UDIA National welcomes new Infrastructure Policy Statement

This week UDIA National welcomed the announcement by The Hon Catherine King, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government on the Federal Government’s new Infrastructure Policy Statement.

UDIA is pleased to see that Government has listened to industry on the need to integrate infrastructure spend with planned development of cities, suburbs and regions. Linking strategic planning, population and employment growth, the supply and availability of housing with land transport infrastructure investment is critical,” said Col Dutton, UDIA National President.

The industry’s capacity to deliver housing is intrinsically linked to the strategic planning, funding and delivery of core infrastructure, and the Policy Statement covers all the critical issues UDIA has been advocating to ensure that nationally significant transport infrastructure will be integrated to housing priorities and properly planned cities, as well as emphasising access and liveability.

“Cities that are made for Access – should be our key goal to guide transport and infrastructure spending in line with urban planning, which puts people at the heart of city shaping investments. It also means that we can improve productivity in delivering new housing if the city is planned from the beginning alongside infrastructure,” said Col Dutton.

Often current transport infrastructure projects suffer from long lead times and it is difficult to see the actual city building or improved housing and amenity, because it has often been done without reference to a strategic plan for building communities.

The infrastructure funding outlined in the announcement will be reshaped, returning to a preference of 50:50 funding with States and Territories to ensure risks and benefits are shared equally.

“The Government’s proposed strategy puts in place a puzzle piece that is important for unlocking more housing supply that supports long-term sustainability of the construction industry and better cities, right at the time we need it the most,” said Mr Dutton.

UDIA looks forward to continuing to work with Government to enable our industry to deliver the aims of this important infrastructure plan.

Latest labour figures

The national unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 3.7% in October (seasonally adjusted), according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The increase came off the back of employment increasing by 55,000 people, and the number of unemployed people increasing by 28,000. Bjorn Jarvis ABS head of labour statistics said the large increase in employment in October followed a small increase in September of around 8,000 people.

“Looking over the past two months, these increases equate to average employment growth of around 31,000 people a month, which is slightly lower than the average growth of 35,000 people a month since October 2022,” he said.

The employment-to-population ratio increased by 0.1 percentage point to 64.5 per cent. The participation rate also increased by 0.2 percentage points to 67.0 per cent.

In WA the unemployment rate increased 0.5 percentage points to sit at 3.8 following a 0.6 percentage point increase in the number of employed people in WA.

The participation rate in WA also increased 0.5 percentage points to sit at 69.3%, the highest level across all of the States.

UDIA WA congratulates Darren Walsh

UDIA WA would like pass our congratulations onto former UDIA WA Treasurer Darren Walsh on his appointment to the independent Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for a five-year term.

Mr Walsh will join Chair Prof. Matthew Tonts, Deputy Chair Lee McIntosh, as well as members Prof. Fiona Haslam McKenzie and Hamish Beck in rounding out the EPA’s board.

EPA members are appointed by the Governor of Western Australia on the recommendation of the Minister for Environment.

Mr Walsh has significant environmental and planning experience, and was the Independent Appeals Convenor to the Minister for Environment between 2003 and 2006.

Mr Walsh will replace outgoing member Dr Jenny Pope on the EPA’s board.

Last chance to advertise in The Urbanist

The upcoming edition of UDIA WA’s The Urbanist magazine will focus on ‘New Trends’ and explore the new innovations, technologies and ideas set to shape the future of the development industry and in turn community creation.

There are limited final advertising opportunities available in this edition and if you book before November 17, you can take advantage of our special book 2 full pages and receive a third page free offer.

For more information and to book, please email Chris Thurmott on or click here to view all of our current advertising opportunities and packages.

New bridge on the way for Fremantle

An enhanced design for a new bridge to replace the ageing Fremantle Traffic Bridge has today been submitted for Development Approval.

The new bridge will be Australia’s only extradosed bridge, a design that incorporates both cantilevers and cable support.

A final conceptual design was released last year, but following community feedback, the decision was made to reassess the design, road layout and alignment.

The new design delivers on community aspirations for the bridge to be an iconic entry statement to Fremantle, and no longer proposes any changes to the existing road layout, which were opposed by the local community.

The decision to retain the existing road layout means the iconic Containbow art installation can remain in its current location.

The new bridge will be built on the alignment of the existing timber bridge, with the construction methodology being used minimising the amount of time the bridge will need to be closed.

Considerations on heritage interpretations that incorporate materials from the existing bridge are currently underway.

Subject to Development Approval, the earliest construction could start would be in the second half of 2024.

The new concept has now been submitted for Development Approval, and the community is invited to have their say via the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage consultation hub.