UDIA WA meets with Premier Mark McGowan

On Wednesday UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck met with the Premier, Ministers for Housing, Local Government, Education and Industrial Relations with representatives on behalf of the Minister for Health and Minister for Regional Development.

The meeting was an excellent opportunity for UDIA WA to advocate to the State Government for the industry to continue operating as an essential service, for government action to give industry confidence and stimulus in readiness for a strong recovery.

The message to our industry from the State and Federal Government at this point in time is clear – continue to work – whilst complying with social distancing, hygiene and health requirements.

In response the message to all levels of Government from UDIA WA is this:

Government must keep its doors open for business, digitally and remotely, to give the building, construction and development industry the necessary confidence and future pipeline of work they need to keep Western Australians employed through this crisis.

It is a combination of direct market stimulus that benefits the consumer, and immediate prioritisation of infrastructure investment via Development Contribution Schemes that we are recommending right now. Our approach is highly responsive and adaptable and can shift as and when required as we progress through the pandemic period.

The State Government have commenced their intensive engagement with local government authorities, and this is firmly on the agenda. UDIA WA will be working proactively with local government to ascertain what can be delivered as a matter of urgency in order to provide a pipeline of work and jobs.

For more information, click here.

UDIA WA delivers stimulus letter

On Tuesday UDIA WA delivered a letter to WA State Premier Mark McGowan with recommended stimulus measures for the development industry in response to COVID-19.

Within the letter UDIA detailed the vital role the development industry has in the Western Australian economy and put forward three key actions for consideration to support our industry through this crisis.

These actions are as follows:

  1. Offer a ‘New Construction Boost’ consisting of a $20,000 grant for all house & land packages contracted by 31 December 2020.
  2. Introduce a 75% reduction in stamp duty on all new or off-the-plan residential properties with a purchase price cap of $750,000.
  3. Issue a clear directive to Local Government Authorities to work with our industry in urgently identifying infrastructure projects funded by Development Contribution Schemes that can be released for tender and approved to commence construction within the next three to six months; and where necessary, consider financing the ‘gap’ between funds gathered to date and total cost of infrastructure delivery with interest free loans through WA Treasury Corporation to bring forward construction.

In addition to the above measures, UDIA WA will work closely with the relevant State agencies regarding prioritising red and green tape reduction across the sector ensuring continuity of approvals throughout this time of extraordinary challenge.

UDIA WA is constantly monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the development industry and its workforce and will continue to advocate on behalf of the whole industry to assist Government in making well-informed decisions.

To read the letter in full, click here.

UDIA WA reveals results of COVID-19 Pulse Check Survey

Earlier today UDIA WA was pleased to be able to release the results of the first COVID-19 Pulse Check Survey which detailed the current impacts on the development industry.

The survey included responses from a wide range of companies within the development industry, both large and small and detailed the tough decisions being made on a daily basis.

The majority of respondents confirmed they had implemented social distancing practices within their organisation and a large proportion either allowing all staff to work from home or allowing most staff to work from home while maintaining an ‘open office’. A large number had also placed a restriction on interstate travel prior to the official advice delivered by the Government.

In terms of negative impacts, the majority listed IT and remote working issues, maintaining staff morale/productivity and maintaining public facing operations as immediate issues they will face in the next two weeks.

As time goes on, many companies see cash flow, managing staff sick leave, the impact of carer duties and redundancies having a growing impact on their business within the next 6 months with cash flow issues and redundancies also having negative impacts on their business up to and beyond the next 12 months.

When forecasting impact on revenue the majority feel there will be between a 0 and 40% reduction in sales for the remainder of this financial year followed by up to a 30% reduction in sales in 2020/21 Financial Year.

In terms of mitigating the financial impacts just under half said they had not fully considered how they would do this but would be exploring options soon, with around 10% of respondents either cutting non-wage related costs, reducing work hours or actioning job losses.

UDIA WA would like to thank all those who took part in this initial COVID-19 Pulse Check Survey. To see the results in full, click here.

Government puts SAPPR on hold

Earlier today the State Government announced a suite of administrative measures to assist the State to respond to COVID-19, including places some of its programs on hold indefinitely, including the Strategic Assessment of the Perth and Peel Regions (SAPPR).

The decision to defer this and other initiatives has been made by the State Government as part of its efforts to free up resources and focus all efforts on responding to COVID-19.

With immediate effect, the following programs will be put on hold indefinitely:

  • The McGowan Government’s Public Sector Reform Program;
  • Our Priorities: Sharing Prosperity;
  • Strategic Assessment of the Perth and Peel Regions; and
  • The Supporting Communities Forum.

Infrastructure Western Australia (IWA) has also agreed to scale back work on preparing the State’s 20-year infrastructure plan given the current uncertainty.

UDIA WA understands the need for all efforts to be focused on coping with COVID-19, however we will look to engage with Government to reinstate the SAPPR at the earliest opportunity once the pandemic is over.

UDIA WA to move to remote working

Following the increased social distancing measures announced by the Federal Government and the requirement to only leave the house for essential travel purposes, UDIA WA has taken the decision for its entire workforce to work remotely from Monday 30 March.

The decision means the 3 Wexford Street office in Subiaco will be closed temporarily, however we will continue to provide a range of opportunities to learn, advocate and engage with industry as we move through these unprecedented times.

We thank you for your understanding during what is a challenging time. We look forward to continuing to provide maximum value to our members.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt to stay on

Following the unprecedented economic impacts of COVID-19 WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt reversed his decision to step down at the next election, instead choosing to lead WA’s economic fightback.

In a statement announcing the decision Mr Wyatt said Western Australia is currently facing a health and economic crisis that we have never seen before and the world had changed dramatically in the month since he announced he would be stepping down.

“As the Premier has warned, the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis are going to be dire,” Mr Wyatt said.

“I know the recovery is going to be a significant task, one of which I am determined to be a part of.

“I want to serve my State in its time of need.

“It is for this reason that I will no longer be stepping down at the next election.”

UDIA WA looks forward to continuing to work with Mr Wyatt into the future.

Nev Power selected to lead COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced he was creating the COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission, which would be led by Chairman Nev Power.

The aim of the COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission is to advise government on actions to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social effects of the pandemic.

Mr Power was chosen for the role following his successful tenure as CEO of Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) where he guided them to WA’s third largest iron ore miner.

Joining Mr Power on the new entity will be former Labor minister and union boss Greg Combet, Jane Halton, Paul Little, Catherine Tanna and former Telstra boss David Thodey, who is deputy chairman.

Federal Government announces new stimulus package

On Sunday 22 March Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a further $66 billion economic stimulus package to complement the previously announced stimulus package on 12 March and the economic assistance measures announced by the Reserve Bank of Australia on 19 March.

With this new package it means $189 billion will be injected into the economy to provide assistance to avert the economic impacts of COVID-19.

This latest economic package is primarily aimed at small and medium businesses, including not-for-profits as well as supporting those currently seeking work. It has three parts:

  • Support for households including casuals, sole-traders, retirees and those on income support
  • Assistance for businesses to keep people in a job
  • Regulatory protection and financial support for businesses to stay in business

Its headline features include:

  • Up to $100,000 to be paid to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not‑for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses’ and not-for-profits’ cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.
  • An establishment of the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme which will support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get access to working capital to help them get them through the impact of the coronavirus. Under the Scheme, the Government will guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs.
  • A $550 coronavirus supplement to be paid to existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit. The Coronavirus supplement will be paid for the next 6 months
  • A further $750 payment to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders, except for those who are receiving an income support payment that is eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement. This second payment will be made automatically from 13 July 2020 to around 5 million social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.
  • Individuals in financial stress as a result of the Coronavirus will be allowed to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.
  • A temporary reduction in superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for 2019-20 and 2020-21.

To find out more information and to see the stimulus package in full, click here.

COVID-19 social distancing measures increase

In a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 around Australia, the Federal and State Governments’ have gradually increasing new and more stringent social distancing measures.

As per the latest guidance from the Federal Government a range of activities are now banned including home open inspections, resulting in the closure of all display homes as only private viewings or inspections will be permitted under current social distancing regulations.

These closures came into effect at Midnight on Wednesday 25 March and followed the closure of pubs, clubs, cinemas and cafes on Monday, which had a major impact on the hospitality industry, however UDIA is confident the closure of display homes and home open inspections will not impact the development industry in the same way.

Last Friday 20 March Australian borders closed to all non-residents and on Tuesday 24 March Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared there would be a ban on non-essential overseas travel, an upgrade from the advice previously delivered.

At 1.30pm on Tuesday 24 March the Western Australian border was closed to those embarking on non-essential travel and Mr McGowan also asked people to reconsider intrastate travel to restrict the spread of coronavirus throughout the State.

As more social distancing measures come into force, UDIA will be closely monitoring the impact these may have on our industry and will continue to advocate to the relevant powers for the appropriate stimulus measures to support our industry through this pandemic.

HWL Ebsworth Member briefing

Due to restrictions on events as a result of COVID-19, UDIA WA unfortunately had to cancel the HWL Ebsworth Member Briefing on Changes to WA Safety Laws, however thanks to HWL Ebsworth Partner Sarah Harrison, we are able to share the slides and a recording of the presentation.

2020 is the year that harmonised workplace health and safety laws will become live in Western Australia. After 10 years of talk, change is imminent. These changes will significantly alter the workplace health and safety obligations of all WA employers, directors, managers, contractors, designers, builders and owners. Some key changes include;

  • A move away from the traditional concept of the “Employer” to the concept of a “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking”, also known as a PCBU, which is a broad concept and will impose direct duties on all partners and non-operating joint venturers;
  • The imposition of personal duties on directors and officers of businesses to ensure the PCBU complies with its WHS duties, which will include a requirement that individuals demonstrate that they understand their personal obligations under the laws and are taking steps to comply;
  • An inability to insure or indemnify against penalties for WHS breaches by making such policies or indemnities void; and
  • The introduction of the offence of “Industrial Manslaughter” with associated jail terms of up to 20 years.

Importantly for UDIA members, these changes impose enhanced and individual upstream duties on businesses and individuals who design, build, own or operate workplaces.

It is likely that a requirement to comply with the new obligations will have immediate effect once the legislation is passed so now is the time to understand the new obligations and take steps to prepare for compliance with the new laws.

To access the slides from the presentation, click here and to listen to a recording of the presentation, click here.

Western Power implements COVID-19 contingency plans

In response to the ever-changing COVID-19 situation Western Power has put a number of scenario-based contingency plans in place to ensure critical and essential services are maintained for the community in the event that staffing levels could be affected by outside events.

As part of this the company detailed it may need to be flexible with its resources to ensure it is able to supply safe reliable power to all Western Australians and is taking steps to ensure the health and safety of all its employees and to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus.

To ensure supply chains are not compromised by COVID-19-related disruption, Western Power have investigated its procurement channels and sources to establish adequate stock is already at hand. This review of current stock holdings has revealed that, except for a handful of (non-critical) products, Western Power have no current risk of stock shortages in relation to COVID-19 response planning.

For more information and for regular updates, click here.

Keeping Australia connected during challenging times

nbn has released a COVID-19 industry update which details the work the company is undertaking to ensure a reliable and regular internet service remains throughout COVID-19.

The update details that nbn is already seeing a steady increase in demand on its network, with this set to continue as more businesses implement remote working models and more people utilise cloud-based services and video conferences to work from home.

To view the document in full, including details of nbn’s work with industry and government, its capacity planning for increased use and the way it is maintaining the network and supporting customers, click here.

Index of Biodiversity surveys for assessments-IBSA Submissions

On Monday 30 March 2020 the Index of Biodiversity Surveys for Assessments (IBSA) Submissions portal will be released.

The key objective of the initiative is to automate the submission of data packages for biodiversity data from land-based field surveys that support assessment under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, undertaken by Department of Water and Energy Regulation (DWER), the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Under this initiative, DWER, EPA and DMIRS will require electronic data to be submitted through the online IBSA Submissions portal. The requirement will apply to submission of IBSA data packages after 29 March 2020.

IBSA Submissions will deliver more efficiencies for proponents and assessment officers and improve the quality of data incorporated into IBSA.

A series of targeted familiarisation sessions will also be held in April directed toward key representative groups whose members may interact with IBSA for the submission of data.

More information on IBSA Submissions is provided in this fact sheet. For any questions about the new Submissions portal, contact ibsa@dwer.wa.gov.au.

Making Higher Density Development & Green Infrastructure Integration Happen conference

Presented by the Arbor Centre this conference aims to tackle the integration of urban greening with below ground services and trees into living spaces, where you didn’t think it was possible.

State Government Ministers together with some of Australia’s leading experts join forces to outline the Disruption and Innovation around this topic, show you ways to break-down previously held barriers and to demonstrate the ‘art of the possible’. This promises to provide fresh, dynamic perspectives and practical recommendations for Local Government and Commercial Organisations alike.

The conference is targeted at Landscape Architects, Urban Planners, Contractors, Engineers, Land and Property Developers, Local and State Government, Town Planners, Project Managers, Consulting / Municipal Arborists, and City / Urban Foresters.

The essence of this conference is to be practical and informative – to introduce concepts, innovation and worked examples that make things happen. The emphasis is on ‘real-life’ experiences and more evidenced based applications. It’s targeted at public and private sector professionals – who are looking for largely non-technical, engaging communication as to how they can significantly improve the integration of trees into engineered spaces.

Having been re-arranged as a result of COVID-19 impacts this conference is set to take place on Wednesday 14th October 2020 at the WACA Ground.

The proposed ‘Part 2; Field Trips and Seminar’ will now take place on Wednesday 2nd December 2020.

For more information, click here.

NCC 2019 Amendment 1 preview released

In preparation for the expected adoption of the National Construction Code (NCC) 2019 Amendment 1 by all States and Territories from 1 July 2020, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has released a preview of the Amendment.

NCC 2019 Amendment 1 will include:

  • a new provision in NCC Volume One regarding egress from early childhood centres;
  • an update to the Governing Requirements for all Volumes to require labelling of aluminium composite panels in accordance with SA Technical Specification 5344;
  • clarification of the concession in NCC Volume One that permits the use of timber framing for low-rise Class 2 and 3 buildings;
  • clarification in NCC Volume Two that anti-ponding board requirements only apply to roofs where sarking is installed; and
  • correction of minor errors.

In addition to the above, the NCC 2019 Amendment 1 preview also contains the following proposed changes that are yet to be confirmed:

  • a new defined term, building complexity, that may be used in the future to identify buildings for which additional oversight is appropriate; and
  • a new provision to require that a process be followed to improve the quality of, and documentation for, Performance Solutions.

NCC 2019 Amendment 1 can be viewed or downloaded here.

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 policy@udiawa.com.au

  • Waste Reform consultation papers (here). Submissions close 15 May 2020:
    • Closing the loop: Waste reforms for a circular economy
    • Review of the waste levy

House transfers fall in Q4 2019 but median price increases

In the December 2019 quarter, Perth established house transfers fell 9.0% QoQ and 3.4% YoY to 5,554; while the median price of transfers increased 4.2% QoQ and 2.0% YoY to $500,000.

Unfortunately, due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy UDIA expects both of these figures to fall slightly in Q1 2020, however the residential property market is showing signs of resilience so we are hopeful the drop will not be too big.

Bright signs for WA’s population in Q3 2019

In September 2019 quarter, Western Australia’s population increased 1.1% YoY to sit at 2.63 million, an increase of 29,320 person from the same time last year and 9,048 persons from the June 2019 quarter.

Net overseas migration lifted 31.1% YoY to 5,717 persons; and net interstate migration continued to improve with just 946 persons leaving WA, the lowest quarterly amount since September 2014.

Unemployment rate fell in February

February saw WA’s unemployment rate fell 78 basis points (bps) month-on-month (MoM) to 5.59% (5.2% seasonally adjusted).

This was 87bps below figures at the same time last year and just 6bps above the national unemployment rate of 5.53%. The number of employed persons in WA increased 2.1% MoM and 2.7% YoY to sit at 1.377 million.

Following the current and ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the way social distancing measures has closed down several businesses and industries, the unemployment figures are expected to at least double in March.