Local government reforms pass parliament

The state government passed local government reform legislation today that is a result of the Local Government Act review.

These reforms target key priority areas identified by the community and local government sector to better prepare council members for their challenging role, strengthen governance, empower councils to communicate with residents using modern technology and expand the amount of information available to the public online.

Many of the reforms were suggested in UDIA’s formal submission to the Local Government Act Review and we are pleased to see our recommendations come to fruition.

Commencing at the 2019 ordinary local government elections in October, all candidates will be required to have completed an online induction.

All council members will also be required to complete a training program following their election covering key areas such as conflicts of interest, understanding financial reports and budgets, and serving on council.

The reforms also aim to improve standards of behaviour through a mandatory code of conduct for council members and candidates; introduce new standards for CEO recruitment and performance management to help elected members select a CEO and assess their performance; provide clarity for elected members to manage real and perceived conflicts of interest related to gifts; and require local governments to publish information on their website such as local laws, approved council policies and all documents contained within a meeting agenda allowing instant access to council information for everyone 24/7.

Six Pillars of Smart Growth analysed

There was plenty of interesting discussion at UDIA’s Industry Breakfast on Wednesday around the six pillars of smart growth for the future of Perth.  Based on UDIA WA’s state priorities document that was published earlier this year, the six pillars have been identified as supporting affordable housing delivery; streamlining the system; leading creation of housing choice; investing in strategic infrastructure; fostering a liveable city; and improving environmental outcomes.

The event panel was facilitated by UDIA National President Darren Cooper and featured experts across the six areas including Department of Communities Director General Michelle Andrews; Department of Planning Director General Gail McGowan; Committee for Perth CEO Marion Fulker; Stockland General Manager Col Dutton; Infrastructure Australia’s Nicole Lockwood; and Strategen Environmental CEO Darren Walsh.

One of the opening questions that really summarised the key messages from the session, asked the panellists if they could name one thing that they would like to see achieved in the next 12 months. The key points from this question emerged as building stronger partnerships, both across government and between government and industry; improving community engagement about housing diversity and positive aspects of development; establishing a less risk averse approach to decision making and ’embracing failure’; agreement of a shared vision for Perth with less focus on the process and more on the outcome; and a more strategic approach to environmental approvals.

Committee for Perth CEO Marion Fulker said that ‘it is time we had an honest conversation with the community’ about future growth and development, stating that we have ‘done all the hard stuff and now there are going to be some trade-offs.’ Marion said there is no silver bullet and the community needed to be engaged in order to accept increased infill development and associated challenges of growth.

UDIA is continuing to work on engaging with the community on issues around growth and development, infill development and how quality density and infill can deliver positive outcomes to the local community.

Thank you to our supporters for this event Strategen Environmental and LandCorp.

Streamline WA online portal launch

UDIA CEO Tanya Steinbeck and Research Director Chris Green attended a breakfast with Premier Mark McGowan this morning hosted by the City of Joondalup.  The Premier launched the Streamline WA online portal which is a new tool aimed at reducing red tape and allowing small businesses and community members to submit ideas for reform regulation.

A steering committee will assess proposals and prioritise reforms that improve regulatory practice, deliver benefits for business and the community, and encourage investment and job creation.

The Premier also discussed infrastructure projects underway in the North West region that is expected to grow to more than 740,000 people by 2050.

AA4 Contribution Policy Changes

From 1 July 2019, all residential and commercial applications for new connections or connection upgrades may be eligible to receive a reduced cost on their connection via one of the following ways:

  • Revenue offset policy: The connection cost will be offset against the expected power consumption for the property (up to a 15-year period where it can be proven the site will be occupied and electricity will be consumed from the network).
  • Distribution Low Voltage Connection Headworks Scheme (DLVCHS): The cost of network infrastructure required for new connections will be shared by customers based on the requested capacity (not whether the current network will be expanded as a result of the application).

For further information and FAQ’s visit here.

New data reinforces need for national population plan

UDIA National’s case for a National Strategic Population Plan has been reinforced by release of new data showing Australia’s population continues to increase, with growth consolidated in our largest states.

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows Australia’s population now sits at 25.2 million people – an increase of 1.6 percent in 2018.

UDIA advocates that we need to get ahead of the task of understanding the implications of population growth. A clear national plan that includes rolling short and long-term forecasts, maps settlement patterns and informs land use, housing, infrastructure and service delivery, is essential.

We have consistently advocated for a National Strategic Population Plan that forecasts population settlement patterns and the demand for housing, infrastructure and services.

The Federal Government’s proposal for a Centre for Population can help drive more informed policy making and decisions around land use and infrastructure planning and is a great initiative.

Find out more here.

Buti response

The Premier has responded to the joint letter from WALGA and UDIA requesting the immediate release of the bushfire planning framework review, stating that he appreciates ‘the challenges that many of your members have been experiencing and can assure you the State Government is committed to addressing some of the unintended consequences of the bushfire reforms introduced in 2015.’

The Premier advised that the framework would be revised and that Dr Buti’s review findings are currently being reviewed so the State can release a ‘suite of recommendations and achievable implementation measures’.

UDIA will continue to liaise with the government on the release and implementation of findings.

PACT crime report update

The theft of electrical cable, copper cable and water meters continue to dominate theft reports with seven reports of water meter theft in Treeby and 2 reports in Brabham in recent weeks.

Copper and electrical cable was stolen from four sites across Ellenbrook and Wellard.

Report all crime and suspicious activity and view May crime statistics 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

  • Draft Position Statement – Fibre Ready Telecommunications Infrastructure (here). Submissions close Monday 22 July, 2019.
  • EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment Guidance (here). Submissions close Monday 2 September, 2019.
  • DWER issues paper ‘Waste not, want not: valuing waste as a resource’ out for comment (here). Submissions close Wednesday 4 September.

GST at Settlement webinars

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) recently held three webinars about different technical aspects affecting GST at settlement.

There was a lot of interest in these webinars and they were fully booked. Recordings of the webinars available here for the following:

GST at settlement – Overview

  • Overview of process
  • Completing forms
  • Completing your BAS
  • Tips to avoid common mistakes
  • Common questions
  • How to fix a mistake

How to get GST at settlement right

  • Enterprise test
  • relying on vendor notices
  • creditable purpose
  • margin scheme
  • penalties
  • reporting non-compliance

GST at settlement – Cutting through the complexities

  • Subdivisions
  • Discounts and rebates
  • Mortgagee in possession
  • Non-residents

See also:

Ikea moves into housing construction

BoKlok, a company co-owend by Swedish retailer Ikea and construction firm Skanska specialise in factory-built housing that can be constructed at low cost.  The company operates in Norway, Finland and Sweden and has recently made a move into the UK, agreeing to work with Worthing Council to construct 162 flats on Council owned land.

BoKlok says it makes it possible for people with average incomes to own a sustainable, quality, low cost home. To find out more.

Stronger heritage laws come into play

Stronger protections for Western Australia’s heritage places will come into effect on July 1, 2019, with the gazettal of the new Heritage Act 2018 and Heritage Regulations 2019 taking place today.

Key changes include a streamlined process for entering a place in the State Register of Heritage Places; clarity for owners wishing to develop their heritage places; better protection for heritage places at risk from ‘demolition by neglect’; increased transparency by publishing the Heritage Council’s advice to the Minister for Heritage on the inclusion of a place in the State Register; and time limits on certain decisions to provide certainty for decision-makers, industry and the community.

For a copy of the new Act and regulations, visit http://www.dplh.wa.gov.au