From the CEO

I was always taught as a child: “if you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

What a conundrum for the now adult in a highly visible advocacy role, where the balance must be struck on a daily basis between calling out inefficient and ineffective government policy or process with presenting well-considered and palatable solutions in the nicest way.

I was also taught that there is a time and a place for certain conversations. From an advocacy perspective, this is highly relevant and in particular as it relates to advocacy through the media. For our industry, we must consider very carefully the impact of media messaging not only on the intended audience which in many cases is the government – but also on our customers and their sentiment.

Yesterday’s media coverage regarding industry challenges with Western Power is one example of where out of sheer (and completely justified, understandable) frustration, an issue is publicly aired without full context that fuels the fear of already scared prospective home buyers. UDIA was not asked to comment nor would we on this occasion, so I put out our position on LinkedIn here.

UDIA sat down with Western Power late last year to escalate our industry’s very real and acute challenges in delivering housing to the market without power. We have since fed into a detailed process review including what the ‘quick wins’ were and what changes would have the biggest and quickest impact on our ability to deliver. Together with Western Power, we identified the opportunity to conduct early strategic network planning to inform the Design Information Package (DIP) at each stage of a land development project. We also agreed that an in-depth review of the Design Conformance Review (DCR) governance model was essential and that we need to consider the implementation of an auditing arrangement.

We heard members’ frustration and we worked on solutions which are now being implemented. Western Power have been committed to urgent action and as responsive as they can be within the framework that they are legally bound to operate. We will continue to work alongside them, at the right time, in the right place and in a firm yet nice way.

UDIA WA in action

On Tuesday, UDIA WA met with Minister Whitby to discuss the customer experience in relation to environmental assessments and approvals through the EPA, and to discuss the ongoing need for a strategic, planning-led approach to environmental decision making.

There was discussion around potential alternatives with government having abandoned the SAPPR in December 2022, and UDIA WA will continue to seek to engage with DWER in scoping this.

UDIA WA, through its working group, is also identifying potential reforms to present to Government in the coming months that will seek to deliver service improvements in the near-term.


Tuesday also saw UDIA WA meet with the Department of Communities Director General Mike Rowe and senior representatives.

Discussion items included the role of the Department, DPLH and DevelopmentWA in delivering social and affordable housing, and key worker accommodation.  Procurement processes and opportunities to leverage Federal funding were also discussed.

UDIA WA will continue to keep members updated on any progress from either of these meetings.

DWER Consultation on Planning Scheme Regulations for EPA referrals

On Friday 14 April, UDIA WA submitted a response to this consultation.

The submission is framed around the following:

  • The intent to streamline the EPA’s assessment activities ‘to focus on matters that will have the greatest impacts on the environment’ and ‘facilitate a more efficient decision-making process for proponents’ is certainly supported.
  • Aligned with this, UDIA WA is also broadly supportive of the proposed changes to the Regulations.
  • However, with environmental assessments and approvals being a major constraint for industry currently, we feel what is currently proposed in terms of amendments not requiring referral to the EPA is too limited.
  • There are other meaningful changes that could be made to the Regulations to further support achievement of these objectives and sustainable population growth.
  • Further, while the subject of the current consultation is a step in the right direction it does not go far enough, with the bigger issue associated with the lack of a strategic approach to environmental assessment and decision-making still having significant implications.
  • It should be borne in mind that industry support for cost recovery was on the basis that there would be an associated improvement in service provision and assessment timeframes. This does not seem to be the case currently, with proponents paying for a level of service they are not necessarily receiving.

Our submission highlights:

  • The significant challenges being experienced by the urban development industry in providing crucial housing supply because of the current piecemeal and highly conservative approach to environmental assessments and approvals;
  • The importance of establishing a strategic, planning-led approach to environmental decision-making; and
  • Recommendations relating to the currently proposed regulatory changes (e.g. consideration of mechanisms to facilitate the streamlining of straightforward rezonings from a Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS) and Local Planning Scheme (LPS) perspective and of previously developed land with little or no environmental value).


Seeking – memories from UDIA WA’s 50-year history

We are seeking photographic and other memories from UDIA WA’s 50-year history!

As part of our 50th Anniversary celebrations this year, UDIA WA is in the process of searching through our archives from the past 50 years and we are calling on our members to do the same.

If you have old photos, industry collateral or information you think would be of interest to our membership and for potential inclusion in our celebratory products, including our 50th Anniversary special edition of The Urbanist magazine, please send it through or reach out to us here with any information.

In addition, there is also an opportunity for our members to share a congratulatory message in our 50th Anniversary Celebration edition magazine through one of the few remaining discounted advertising spaces.

We have half page, full page and double-page options available, but please be quick as spaces are filling up fast.

For more information on how to get involved, contact us here.

RBA to be stripped of interest rate powers

Earlier today Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers revealed the results of a review into the Reserve Bank of Australia, which includes 51 recommendations such as the removal of the RBA’s power to set interest rates, with the Federal Government set to accept all 51 recommendations.

In responding to the announcement, RBA Governor Philip Lowe made the following statement:

“I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the conclusions of the Review into the Reserve Bank and thank the Review Panel for their excellent work. The Review has been timely, with the RBA facing an increasingly complex world and operating environment. The recommendations will help us deal with this more complex world and will strengthen the monetary policy process and governance of the RBA.”

Replacing the RBA’s ability to set interest rates will be a new board made up of monetary policy experts who will meet 8 times per years instead of the current 11 times with a view to allowing more time for each interest rate decision to take effect.

The new board is anticipated to be operational by July 2024.

Solutions to the South West worker housing shortage

The South West Development Commission is working to address the South West’s housing and worker accommodation shortage across the region and is seeking to identify land owners and developers that may be interested in developing worker accommodation opportunities.

The State Government recently launched the Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF) which includes $40 million to unlock regional worker accommodation projects (please find guidelines attached).

The IDF provides developers with an opportunity to apply for funding to address water, wastewater, and electricity constraints to deliver regional worker accommodation. A business case demonstrating the need, service implications, timeframes and costs (among other things) is required to apply, and projects should be able to commence within 12 months of approval. The Fund is open until 6 September 2024.

For more information or if any members would like to discuss a proposal in the South West, please contact Jesse McDonald at the South West Development Commission at

UDIA WA presents WA’s Housing Market Outlook

At the end of last week UDIA WA were delighted to launch our newest event – WA’s Housing Market Outlook – an Under the Microscope investigation with REA Group’s Cameron Kusher.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the level of risk in Australia’s housing market is the second-highest in the developed world after Canada.

With high levels of household debt, elevated house prices and a chronic housing supply shortage – predictions for how the housing market responds over the next 12 months are wide and varied.

To provide a forensic and entertaining briefing on the key residential property market dynamics evident across the Western Australian housing market, UDIA WA are proud to host REA Group’s Executive Director of Economic Research, Cameron Kusher at our June Industry Luncheon.

For more information and to join us for this important update, visit here.

Big thanks to our Environmental Partner JBS&G – An Independent Accredited Environmental Consultancy, Event Sponsor Mirvac and our Technology Partner nbn® Australia for supporting this event.

New WA facility to demonstrate turning waste into fuel

An innovative solution to waste management that will see household rubbish and biomass turned into useful products instead of ending up in landfill is set to be demonstrated in Western Australia.

In partnership with the Shire of Collie, Renergi has completed the construction of the $10.4 million Collie Resource Recovery Centre.

The plant, which was built using a patented design and uses technology developed in WA by Renergi, is the first of its kind and positions Collie as a pioneer in the negative-emission bio-based circular economy. Renergi and its technology were incubated at Curtin University by an engineering team led by Professor Chun-Zhu Li.

With the potential to revolutionise the way waste is managed, the project is expected to attract wide attention as a possible clean way of converting biomass and municipal solid wastes into valuable products. It could also reduce landfills to low levels and convert plastic wastes into valuable industrial and energy inputs.

The plant will convert rubbish collected from households as well as biomass wastes into commercially viable bio-char, bio-oil and wood vinegar.

Biochar can be sold as a soil conditioner or used in road construction, where it is recognised as a medium for secure, long-term carbon sequestration.

Bio-oil can be used as a liquid fuel or as feedstock for replacement of fossil carbon in chemical manufactures, iron-making and other industries. Wood vinegar is a valuable input in horticulture.

Up to 12 full-time jobs will be created to support the operation of the facility, which is co-located with the Shire of Collie’s landfill site.

Local use of bio-oil and char can potentially contribute to other industrial developments in Collie and the surrounding region.