Ministerial Roundtable on Housing & Construction

UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck attended a Ministerial Roundtable on Housing & Construction strategies to support the economic recovery from COVID-19.

The Roundtable; held last Friday was hosted by Minister for Housing, Peter Tinley MLA and Minister for Planning Rita Saffioti MLA where representatives from across the industry workshopped ideas for the State Government to consider in order to create a sustainable pathway of growth moving forward.

First meeting of the State Recovery Advisory Group

The first meeting of the State Recovery Advisory Group was held last Thursday, hosted by the Premier and Ministers for Health, Education and the Environment.

UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck is a member of the advisory group, which in the first workshop reviewed the draft Impact Statement that is required by legislation to be produced in response to the enacting of the State of Emergency.

Over 20 leaders gathered to workshop input into the State Recovery Plan which will be released in July and focus on carefully restarting and stimulating the economy with a view to progressive reforming and transforming into 2021.

Planning & Development Act Amendment Bill 2020 – going through the Upper House now

The PDA Amendment Bill has been actively debated in the Legislative Council over the last couple of days and is currently progressing through the range of amendments with a hopeful passing of the Bill shortly.

UDIA WA has been actively engaged throughout the development and advocacy of the Bill, with an update to be provided to members on the final detail as soon as it comes to hand.

UDIA WA releases second edition of The Urbanist

Last Friday UDIA WA was very pleased to release to members and subscribers the second edition of our quarterly magazine The Urbanist.  This edition focuses on the role of infrastructure in shaping our cities, communities and economy and features exclusive interviews with key leaders including:

  • Infrastructure Australia CEO Romilly Madew;
  • Infrastructure WA Chairperson John Langoulant;
  • global economist Jonathan Pain;
  • Department of Planning DG Gail McGowan,
  • futurist Stephen Yarwood; and
  • many more local, national and global experts.

For more information and to read this edition, which has only been made available to UDIA WA members and subscribers to The Urbanist, click here.

Please note, you will need to log into your member account on the UDIA WA website in order to access this second edition.

UDIA WA Awards for Excellence submissions deadline extended

UDIA WA Council have made the decision to move the date of the UDIA WA 2020 Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner to February 2021.

This decision has been made in the interest of keeping members, staff and stakeholders safe in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In moving our Gala Dinner to early next year, the decision has been made to extend the deadline for submissions, giving you plenty of time to finalise your submissions!

Nominations for the Awards for Excellence, Stockland and UDIA WA Young Development Professional Award and the Women in Leadership Award will now close on Monday 24 August 2020.

For more information and to see the new deadlines for the Awards, click here.

To start your Awards for Excellence submission, click here.

The Future of Cities in the wake of COVID-19

On Tuesday, UDIA WA was very pleased to be joined by urban futurist and former Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide, Stephen Yarwood for our Future of Cities webinar.

Stephen provided insight into what our cities could look like and what we need to be thinking about to achieve the creation of more liveable and social cities.

We would like to extend our thanks to all of the attendees and for the thought provoking questions put forward by participants as they really helped to further open up the conversation and enrich the discussion.

For an overview of what Stephen discussed, read this excellent round up that was featured on the PerthNow website, here.

If you would like to hear more from Stephen, we are delighted he will be joining us again for our next Industry Breakfast themed Future Proofing the Urban Environment in October.

Stephen will share best practice case studies and innovative insights on what we should be doing to combat the risks of climate change and what a truly resilient built environment looks like.

For more information and to register, click here.

You can also read more of Stephen’s thoughts in the second edition of The Urbanist where he discusses how urban design and planning might change post COVID-19, here.

Our thanks to our Environmental partner, Strategen-JBS&G for sponsoring the webinar on Tuesday and for sponsoring the Industry Breakfast in October.

WA records highest unemployment rate in country

Earlier today Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that a further 227,700 jobs were lost in May, which saw the country’s unemployment rate jumping from 6.4% to 7.1% in a month.

In the press conference the Prime Minister said Australia is currently going through “dark times”, and that the government will analyse the data before making “big decisions”.

The rise in unemployment figures means Australia has lost 838,200 jobs since February and there are around 1.7 million people in receipt of JobSeeker payments.

Figures from the ABS show WA now has the worst unemployment rate in the country after more than 30,000 people lost their jobs last month, taking the State’s total number of coronavirus-related employment casualties passed 104,000.

The State’s official unemployment rate has spiked to 8.1 per cent, up from 5.2 per cent in February — the worst jobless rate recorded since mid-2001.

There are now more than 112,000 unemployed West Australians, the worst figure on record.

Despite these large numbers, the figures were recorded prior to the introduction of Phase 2 relaxations by the State Government in mid-May, which were superseded on June 6 with the introduction of Phase 3 relaxations and followed by the announcement of the $444 million housing stimulus package the following day.

RBA downgrades economic impacts

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) believes the economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 will be shallower than initially expected, according to the minutes from the June Monetary Policy Meeting of the Reserve Bank Board released earlier this week.

Despite signalling a less severe downturn than initially feared, the RBA Board Members recognised that the Australian economy was experiencing the biggest economic contraction since the 1930s.

The minutes noted that a very large number of people had lost their jobs or were working zero hours, household spending had weakened considerably, and some investment was being deferred or had been cancelled.

The board members agreed the outlook remains highly uncertain and the pandemic is likely to have lasting effects on the economy however the Bank’s policy package, brought in towards the start of the pandemic, was working broadly as expected.

“The package had helped to lower funding costs and stabilise financial conditions and was supporting the economy,” the minutes noted. “The package had also contributed to a significant improvement in the functioning of government bond markets, and the yield on 3-year Australian Government bonds was at the target of around 25 basis points.

“The Board recognised that the substantial, coordinated and unprecedented easing of fiscal and monetary policy in Australia was helping the economy through this difficult period. It was likely that this fiscal and monetary support would be required for some time.”

In light of this, the Board reaffirmed the elements of the policy package announced on 19 March 2020, namely:

  • a target for the cash rate of 0.25 per cent
  • a target of 0.25 per cent for the yield on 3-year Australian Government bonds
  • the Term Funding Facility to support credit to businesses, particularly small and medium-sized businesses
  • an interest rate of 10 basis points on Exchange Settlement balances held by financial institutions at the Bank.

The Board affirmed that the target for three-year yields would be maintained until progress is made towards the Bank’s goals of full employment and the inflation target, and that it would be appropriate to remove the yield target before the cash rate itself is raised.

The Board determined that it would not increase the cash rate target until progress is made towards full employment and it is confident that inflation will be sustainably within the 2–3% target band.

PM commits $1.5 billion to infrastructure including fast-tracking 15 major projects

On Monday Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered a speech where he announced a commitment of $1.5 billion to enable small priority infrastructure projects to commence.

As part of this package, $1 billion will be allocated to priority projects which are shovel-ready and $500 million has been reserved specifically to target road safety works.

Mr Morrison also committed to reducing approval times for projects to enable projects to start earlier and reduce the cost to industry. He said the main objective was to streamline Commonwealth and state processes to a point of ‘single touch approvals’.

As part of this he announced a priority list of 15 major projects that are on the fast-track for approval under a bilateral model between the Commonwealth, states and territories.

“Joint assessment teams will work on accelerating these projects worth more than $72 billion in public and private investment,” Mr Morrison said. “Projects that will support over 66,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“Under our new approach this investment, and most importantly, these jobs will be brought to market earlier by targeting a 50 per cent reduction in Commonwealth assessment and approval times for major projects, from an average of 3.5 years to 21 months.”

Road, rail and iron ore projects in Western Australia were among those included on the priority list.

For more information, read the transcript of the speech the Prime Minister delivered, here.

Keystart renovation initiative builds on housing recovery plan

UDIA WA welcomed the State Government’s announcement at the end of last week that it will extend increased income limits for homebuyers taking out Keystart loans until June 30, 2021, and promote the availability of a home renovation loan for existing Keystart customers.  This is a move that UDIA WA had suggested as part of our advocacy priorities.

In July 2019, as part of the McGowan Government’s policy to help more Western Australians achieve the dream of home ownership, Keystart increased maximum income limits for applicants eligible for its low deposit home loans.

The new income limits rose by $15,000 for singles and couples, and $20,000 for families and, dependant on metropolitan or regional location, applied to homes valued up to $650,000.

The new eligibility arrangements were due to revert on July 1, 2020, but will now continue for at least 12 months.

In addition, existing Keystart customers can now access home renovation loans from $1,000 up to $100,000 to undertake property improvements and renovations.

The promotion of the existing increase loan, now known as a renovation loan, aims to create opportunities for eligible Keystart customers to undertake home improvement projects and invest in their property, while supporting the local housing and construction industry.

ActiveSustainability release survey results

In April UDIA WA invited members to take part in an Industry research and engagement project being undertaken by ActiveSustainability in collaboration with Foundations Research and Murdoch University. The results from this survey, which looked at Expanding Reuse Opportunities for Recycled C&D Materials have now been released.

The survey found that 3 in 5 construction industry practitioners have no, limited, or only some understanding of recovered or recycled materials available in WA and that 2 in 5 respondents were not able to identify any projects where they were aware of recycled products construction being used.

Of the recycled materials available, there was greater awareness of the recycling of sand, soil, bricks and pavers compared to less frequently recycled materials such as plastics, metal, timber, and rock and stone. Some respondents reported knowledge of ‘other’ recycled materials in construction including glass, rubber, furniture, and tyres.

The survey found that the main perceived barriers to recycling are environmental specifications, structural specifications, cost and availability.

A positive note from the survey found that 71% of respondents were very likely or definitely going to use recycled construction materials in future projects and there was a willingness amongst the majority of respondents for more information on the more commonly recycled materials.

The results will be used to assist to prepare the content of a new guide to assist in the procurement of recycled waste in Western Australia. It will be freely available to engineers, government decisionmakers and other stakeholders in July.

To read the results in full, click here.

Guiding urban water management in areas that experience high seasonal groundwater: Expert Panel report

At the start of June the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) released the findings of an Expert Panel that was established to assist with stage 2 of its Integrated Research Project 5 (IRP5) Knowledge-based water sensitive solutions for development in high groundwater environments) (CRCWSC 2017).

The Expert Panel comprised Associate Professor Dr Sally Thompson from The University of Western Australia (UWA), Dr Margaret Shanafield from the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (Flinders University, Adelaide), and Greg Claydon (Chair, and CRCWSC Board Director), assisted by Research Associate Dr Ana Manero (UWA, Perth).

The Panel produced this report based on site visits, detailed discussions, and feedback on an earlier draft report from a range of Western Australia based urban development industry practitioners and consultants, local and state government officials and researchers.

The report was also produced following consultation with UDIA WA’s Water Committee, the multi-stakeholder Land Development in Groundwater Constrained Environments Steering Group (convened by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) WA branch) and the Western Australian Local Governments Association (WALGA)), the CRCWSC’s Western Region Advisory Panel, and Perth’s Water Sensitive Transition Network.

This report also draws on relevant previous work by the CRCWSC and the Expert Panel’s own tacit knowledge and experiences.

For more information and to download the report, click here.

Mixed results for lending figures

Institutions faced a backlog of demand due to processing delays which moderated falls in new loan commitments over March.

Nationally, fixed term loan commitments for personal finance fell dramatically driven by a slump in lending demand for the purchase of new vehicles, while business finance fell for both the construction and purchase of property.

In WA, the number of commitments for the construction of dwellings over the month of April decreased 8.1% YOY, while the number of commitments for the purchase of newly erected dwellings increased 7.5% compared with a decrease of 14.3% for the purchase of existing dwellings.

In WA, the value of commitments for the construction of dwellings over the month of April increased 4.3% YOY, also increasing 20.3% YOY for the purchase of newly erected dwellings while decreasing 6.8% for the purchase of existing dwellings.

House approvals up amid decrease in total dwelling approvals

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwellings approved decreased 1.8% in April.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector house approvals rose 2.7%, while approvals for private sector dwellings excluding houses fell 8.9%. The seasonally adjusted estimate of the value of total building approved fell 2.5% in April, with the value of residential building increasing 4.4% and the value of non-residential building decreasing 11.9%.

In WA the total number of houses approved over April was 1000 (+4% YOY), alongside 314 total other dwelling units (+15% YOY).

In WA the trend estimate for the total number of dwelling unit approvals increased 2.3%.

Limited number of people entering WA in April

As expected, WA experienced a 99.6% decrease in short term trip visitor arrivals, from 62,860 to 250 (annual change to April 2020), with largest source countries being Indonesia, New Zealand and the UK.

In April there were no arrivals travelling to WA on international student visas corresponding with a decrease of 2,650 students (100%) compared to April 2019.

The number of returning residents to WA decreased by -98.2% (annual change to April 2020) from 111,750 to 1970.

Wages on the decline

Between the week ending 14th March and week ending 30th May, nationally payroll jobs decreased by 7.5% and total wages paid decreased by 8.3%. In WA the change in total wages paid decreased 10.7%.

Nationally the construction industry reported a 7.8% reduction in total wages paid for the same period, while in WA the construction industry reported a 6.5% reduction.

Residential Property Price Indexes rise across country

Australia’s residential property prices increased across every capital city for the March 2020 quarter, led by Sydney (+1.9%) and Melbourne (+2.1%) according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Perth experienced a 0.6% increase in the residential property price index, while decreasing 0.9% YOY.

The weighted average across all 8 cities increased 1.6% over the quarter, and 7.4% YOY. This data largely excludes any COVID-19 impacts.

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

  • Local Government Act Review Phase One Regulations – Opportunity to Comment (here). Submissions close Monday 13 July 2020.
  • Waste Reform consultation papers (here). Submissions close Wednesday 15 July 2020:
    • Closing the loop: Waste reforms for a circular economy & review of the waste levy
    • Review of the waste levy – consultation paper

Need Fill? Surplus sand available

In the process of constructing the Roe Highway/Kalamunda Road grade separation project, Georgiou have obtained a large amount of surplus fill material, which would be ideal for consultants, planners, developers and other stakeholders that may have a use for this material for their projects.

The fill material can be obtained by getting in touch with Georgiou direct who can provide more information about the specific details. Depending on yours and the project’s requirements (timing, quality and the amount required), the fill may be free of charge or a fee may apply.

For further information or to make an enquiry about the fill material, contact Jason Fletcher on

Site Security Update

After a 29% reduction in reported crime during May, June has followed a similar trend with a lower rate of reported crime to date.

With increased land developer membership, illegal rubbish dumping reports have increased with the dumping of rubbish continuing to impact both builders and land developers alike.

PACT investigators work with local councils to assist in the removal of rubbish, identify offenders and issue infringements when sufficient evidence is available.

As with building and construction industry crime, the reporting of incidents is crucial to the ultimate goal of reducing the impact of crime and illegal rubbish dumping. For more information, click here.