UDIA WA CEO chosen to help lead recovery effort

UDIA WA is delighted to share the news that UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck has been invited by Premier Mark McGowan to join the State Recovery Advisory Group to help lead WA’s recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group will provide high level and strategic advice on the impacts of COVID-19 and help to guide the development of the State Recovery Plan.

It will provide valuable feedback to the State Government on ongoing and emerging challenges relating to COVID-19.

For more information and to see the full list of representatives in the newly appointed group, click here.

Planning reform action

Critical legislation to action the suite of planning reforms that are being brought forward from the state government’s Planning Reform Action Plan is swiftly making its way through Parliament this week.

Following a healthy debate in the Legislative Assembly the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2020 passed through earlier today. The next step will be for it to pass through the Legislative Council in a couple of weeks’ time, which it is expected to do so with bipartisan support.

UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck has met with Opposition Leader Tjorn Sibma and representatives from the National Party this week to outline our support of the Bill and ensure that all parties are aware of the importance of the legislation in enabling the development industry to support the economic recovery effectively via a more streamlined planning system.

For more information about this announcement, click here.

More information about the reforms, including the introduction of a pathway for Significant Developments can be found here.

$4.5B Housing and Construction Stimulus Pack Core to Economic Revival

Earlier this week UDIA National released details of a new plan to support the industry and Australia’s economic revival, with the centrepiece being a $4.5B housing stimulus fund that prompts homebuyers back into the market and a surge of housing and infrastructure construction.

The economic revival plan was launched to stimulate economic growth, jobs and wages by boosting housing construction following the economic effects of COVID-19.

The plan positions the industry as central to the nation’s economic prosperity and outlines a series of immediate steps for federal and state governments to take.

UDIA National is sending the plan and engaging with federal policymakers in a fresh push that complements the excellent work already being advanced at a state level.

The main initiatives are:

  • A housing stimulus fund worth more than $4 billion that includes:
    • A ‘Home Starter” incentive for consumers of up to $50,000 dwelling construction that targets 60,000 new starts – at 10,000 per quarter – until the end of 2021
    • Prioritising and accelerating infrastructure such as roads, water, sewerage and power that can be delivered within 12 months to support ‘shovel-ready’ housing – with the Commonwealth to table $1 billion to be matched by the states
    • A ‘red tape reduction fund’ to reward states and territories that cut major project assessment timeframes in half and kick start new projects
  • Commit to clearing the backlog of projects under assessment via the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, including:
    • All projects that entered the assessment regime prior to July 1, 2019, be guaranteed a decision by July 1, 2020
    • All projects that entered the assessment regime prior to January 1, 2020, be guaranteed a decision by October 1, 2020; and
    • All projects that entered the assessment regime post January 1, 2020, be guaranteed a decision by January 1, 2021.
  • Releasing a second tranche of 10,000 places under the First Home Buyers Deposit Gap Scheme, but exclusively geared towards the purchase and supply of new housing stock
  • Supporting the return of immigration levels to 200,000 for FY2021 and FY2022, subject to health protocols, as a key catalyst to drive demand and broader economic growth.

These initiatives sit alongside a suite of other actions that the Commonwealth and States can advance in partnership to reduce taxes, cut red tape, re-engage foreign capital and lower the cost of housing.

State Treasurer reveals initials impacts of COVID-19 on the economy

Earlier today, WA State Treasurer Ben Wyatt provided State Parliament with a preliminary assessment of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Western Australian economy and State’s finances.

The Economic and Fiscal Update was tabled along with the March Quarterly Financial Results Report, which outlined the State’s financial performance for the first nine-months of 2019-20, and largely reflected conditions prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The March quarterly report showed the State’s finances were in a strong position before the pandemic, however, the separate Economic and Fiscal Update indicated the economic shock from COVID-19 will be significant on the Western Australian economy.

Treasury baseline modelling projects that Western Australia’s Gross State Product will contract by 5.1% in the June quarter 2020. This will reduce forecast growth to 0.7 per cent in 2019‑20, with a 3.1% contraction expected in 2020-21, before returning to growth in 2021-22.

Mr Wyatt pointed out that while royalty collections have remained relatively stable during the pandemic, significant downturns are forecast for other revenue sources including GST grants, payroll tax, transfer duty, land tax and vehicle licence duty.

Total general Government revenue over 2019-20 to 2020-21 is expected to be about $1.8 billion lower than outlined in the 2019-20 Mid-year Review.

The Treasurer told State Parliament that forecasts should be treated with caution given the high level of uncertainty of the depth and duration of the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on the State, national and international economies.

UDIA WA will continue to engage with the Treasury and the State Government to highlight the important role the development industry can play in the recovery effort, due to significant contribution our industry makes to the economy.

We will continue to advocate strongly for stimulus measures that will allow our industry to survive the current situation and thrive during the economic recovery effort.

Join us for a live National Webinar with The Hon Michael Sukkar MP

There is still time to register for the national live webcast with Federal Housing Minister and Assistant Treasurer Hon. Michael Sukkar MP on Tuesday 2 June from 11am-12pm (AWST). This is an exclusive opportunity for UDIA members to hear directly from the Minister on a range of issues relevant to the industry.

The Minister will discuss the importance of the development industry in these challenging times and the Federal Government’s response to COVID-19.

This is an excellent opportunity to hear the Minister outline the government’s plan for housing affordability and measures to unlock supply across the country. He will also discuss other incentives and reforms to improve housing outcomes for first home buyers and renters.

There are limited tickets available so be sure to secure your place now using the code UDIAWA2020 to receive the member rate when booking.

For more information and to book your place, click here.

Don’t miss your chance to WIN two FREE tickets

UDIA WA are offering the opportunity for one lucky entrant to win two free tickets to our most prestigious event of the year, the 2020 UDIA WA Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner.

To be eligible to enter, simply activate your online Awards Force User account by COB Monday 1 June and remember to finalise your entry submission by COB Tuesday 30 June, 2020.

All user accounts in Awards Force that are activated prior to COB Monday 1st June 2020 (including any that were already activated) will automatically be entered into the draw to win two complimentary registrations to this year’s UDIA WA Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner (worth $700!).  A winner will be chosen at random following the close of nominations on 30th June, and all entrants will be notified of the winner.

This offer is available to anyone nominating a project in one or more of the ten Awards for Excellence categories (does not include Women in Leadership & Young Development Professional awards).

To start your entry and activate your account, click here.

For more information and to download the UDIA WA 2020 Awards for Excellence Nomination Kit, click here.

Pandemic Management Toolkit released

UDIA WA is proud to announce the release of our COVID-19 Pandemic Management Toolkit, a resource specifically developed by UDIA for the Development, Building & Construction Industry.

The toolkit provides a range of useful information to assist in the creation and management of a pandemic management action plan that will allow your business to navigate the current and importantly, any future pandemic or relevant crisis situation.

During a pandemic it can be difficult to cut through the ‘noise’ and pinpoint where the most relevant information can be sourced for our industry in relation to support measures, latest restrictions, current employer and employee guidelines, communications and other relevant advice. That is why the toolkit has been specifically developed to assist the development industry with the most current and relevant information available.

We encourage you to distribute this document to your teams and colleagues, as it provides several useful links, tips and summaries of information that will help us all adapt to these challenging times.

To access the COVID-19 Pandemic Management Toolkit, click here.

EnviroDevelopment Member Briefing

Tomorrow is the last chance to register for the UDIA WA free Member Briefing that will focus on the benefits of the EnviroDevelopment program.

EnviroDevelopment (ED) is the UDIA endorsed certification system that provides accreditation to land developments that aim to go beyond minimum practice standards and promote more sustainable communities and spaces.

The ED system sets the bar above current practice and targets the top 20 percent of green marketed urban development projects. The certification assesses project initiatives across six areas– ecosystems, waste, energy, materials, water, and community.

ED was developed to address the perceived short comings of the current urban development system and to facilitate the take-up of more sustainable practices. The standards are designed to be flexible, pragmatic, and encourage innovation.

During this free webinar, David Beyer, principal of ActiveSustainability Consulting, will provide an overview of the ED standards, how and where they are being applied in WA, and how they can improve project delivery.

For more information and to register, click here.

RBA signals initial success of stimulus measures

In an opening statement to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Dr Philip Lowe said evidence so far suggests the RBA’s mid-March stimulus package is working as expected and it is helping build the necessary bridge to the recovery.

On the economic front, he said there has been very close coordination between monetary and fiscal policy and the goal is to support the economy by keeping funding costs low and credit available, especially to small and medium-sized businesses.

“As banker to the Australian Government, the RBA has also processed the many billions of dollars in government assistance to households and businesses,” Dr Lowe said. “We have also made sure that the payments system is working well and that banknote supply is maintained.”

In terms of how the economic recovery effort might pan out, he said much of that depended not only on when restrictions are lifted but also on the confidence that Australians have about their own health and finances.

“With the national health outcomes better than earlier feared, it is possible that the economic downturn will not be severe as earlier thought. Much depends on how quickly confidence can be restored,” Dr Lowe said.

“But even as the recovery gets under way, there will still be a shadow cast by the pandemic. As a country, we will need to turn our minds as to how to move out of this shadow. A reform agenda that makes Australia a great place for businesses to expand, invest, innovate and hire people would certainly help.”

Productivity Commission Issues Paper

On Tuesday the Productivity Commission released its latest Issues Paper looking into National Water Reform, which provides an update on the inquiry into progress with the reform of Australia’s water resources sector.

Having conducted its first national water reform Inquiry in 2017, the Productivity Commission found that Australia is managing its water resources well, given our dry and highly variable climate, and the importance of water to our economy, however, there remains further work to do.

Reform of the water sector has been ongoing over several decades, reflecting the fundamental importance of water to our economy and the significant challenges involved in managing a shared natural resource often impacted by periods of scarcity.

The Inquiry into the reform of Australia’s water resources sector will fulfil the statutory requirement for the second of the Commission’s triennial assessments of progress towards achieving the objectives and outcomes of the National Water Initiative (NWI) required by section 88 of the Water Act 2007 and these terms of reference should be read in conjunction with that Act.

The issues paper has been put together to assist individuals and organisations to prepare submissions to the inquiry. It outlines: the scope of the inquiry, the Commission’s procedures, matters about which the Commission is seeking comment and information, and how to make a submission.

For more information and to read the latest issues paper, click here.

UDIA WA acknowledges National Reconciliation Week 2020

Yesterday marked the first day of National Reconciliation Week 2020 and to mark this occasion UDIA WA acknowledged the Whadjuk People of the Noongar Nation, the traditional owners of the land on which we work.

As part of this, all of the UDIA WA staff joined together in a virtual meeting in recognition of the event.

National Reconciliation Week is run by Reconciliation Australia, a not-for-profit established in 2001 by the former Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. They are “the national organisation responsible for building and promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians for the wellbeing of the nation”.

The week runs from Wednesday 27 May until Wednesday 3 June and this year’s theme is In This Together, which encourages all Australians to reflect on the part they play – whether big or small – on our journey towards reconciliation.

This unity of purpose creates a shared sense of belonging and identity; and this identity must value and include the histories, cultures and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Unity is of the five dimensions of reconciliation as defined by Reconciliation Australia.

For Australia to become a truly complete nation, it will take the commitment and contribution of all of us.

For more information about how you or your organization can participate, click here.

Taking cars out of the urban planning equation

If cars are so detrimental to the health and wellbeing of our cities and their inhabitants, design experts from Hames Sharley ask, why haven’t we phased them out? and look at some of the issues involved, and how urban designers and architects can respond to the problem.

Over the past decade, research has suggested that designing more compact cities with a mixture of land uses is critical in the search for a more sustainable and livable city model. How we view cars could be one of the key factors in how that mixed land use is achieved – and with recent increases in concern about climate change, air quality, rising petrol prices, traffic congestion and social integration, it could be time to switch car parks for…well, actual parks.

To read this blog in full, click here.

State Government seeking new State Architect

The WA State Government are encouraging registered architects to nominate as Western Australia’s next Government Architect to help shape the future development and growth of the State.

The position provides design leadership and strategic advice to ensure good design is at the centre of all development and major projects.

The Government Architect also heads up the State Design Review Panel, ensuring Design WA policies are central to all development, and will also support the newly proposed Special Matters Development Assessment Panel, which will consider major developments to support the post-pandemic economic recovery.

The successful candidate will also play a key role in the design and development of METRONET precincts, major infrastructure projects and significant commercial, industrial and residential developments that will create vibrant communities and breathe new life into existing neighbourhoods.

Applications are open for three weeks, closing Wednesday June 17, 2020. More information, including remuneration, position statement and application criteria is available here.

Green light for world-leading renewable hydrogen from wastewater project

Western Australia is set to play host to a new project designed to produce low-emission hydrogen and graphite from sewage at a wastewater treatment plant.

The project, the first of its kind in Australia, will be a three-year operation at Woodman Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Munster and will produce around 100 tonnes of fuel-grade hydrogen and 380 tonnes of graphite each year, with the potential for expansion.

The project is expected to create up to 20 new jobs and help sustain more than 100 others in the contractor and supply chain.

The technology capitalises on the waste product of biogas – primarily composed of methane and carbon dioxide – which is released during the wastewater treatment process as solid matter (biosolids) breaks down.

While most of this renewable fuel is currently used to produce electricity for the treatment plant, the excess is usually burned off – now it will be converted into valuable materials using an iron ore catalyst.

The technology was developed at The University of Western Australia before being acquired by Hazer Group.

Hydrogen has a wide range of industrial and commercial uses, including vehicle fuel and chemical feedstock.

Graphite has potential for a number of industrial applications, such as the production of lithium-ion batteries, water purification and advanced materials.

Local Government Act Review Phase One Regulations – Opportunity to Comment

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries are providing an opportunity to comment on the Local Government Act Review Phase One Regulations.

The Local Government Regulations Amendment (Consequential) Regulations 2020 will bring into effect measures relating to:

  • the harmonisation of the appointment of authorised persons across multiple pieces of legislation in the local government portfolio;
  • local and statewide public notices; and
  • improved access to information, including through publication on the local government’s website.

A consultation draft (here) and explanatory notes (here) have been prepared for you to gain further information.

UDIA WA will prepare a submission in response to the amendment, please email any feedback for potential inclusion in our submission to policy@udiawa.com.au. Submissions close on Monday 13 July 2020.

Improving outcomes for apartment residents and neighbourhoods

The characteristics of lower income apartment residents and the places where they live is the subject of the latest AHURI research paper.

Improving outcomes for apartment residents and neighbourhoods was published earlier today and discusses how well apartment developments meet the needs of this group and considers how future developments can best provide for the wellbeing, community and affordability needs of lower income residents at both the building and neighbourhood scale.

The research highlights that the number and proportion of Australians living in apartments is increasing and a broad cross-section of Australian society lives in apartments, but lower-income households are over-represented compared to other dwelling types.

In addition, the research found that lower-income households are disproportionally affected by challenges associated with apartment living, yet most existing research and policy does not consider the impact of living in density for lower-income residents in particular.

In response, the paper suggests that improving outcomes for lower-income apartment residents will require shifting current priorities in both policy-making and practice. These changes range from relatively simple interventions to proposals requiring significant buy-in from both the private and public sectors.

Failure to address the needs of lower-income high-density residents risks undermining the prosperity and cohesion of Australian cities in future years, according to the report.

For more information and to read the research paper in full, click here.

AHURI launches COVID-19 research agenda to best create housing policy decisions

Earlier this week the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) released details of its COVID-19 Research Agenda, made up of eight priority research projects that will help governments at all levels make the best housing policy decisions during and following the coronavirus pandemic.

The research, which will be fast tracked to deliver findings in the second half of 2020 examines topics across the housing continuum including:

  • After the pandemic, can building homes rebuild Australia?By freezing the economy and social interactions, Australia has shown great success in reducing the spread of the virus, however it has come at a huge cost to employment. The housing industry has been widely promoted as an ideal mechanism for delivering economic stimulus, but how should does it actually have the capacity to deliver economic stimulus in periods of economic crisis and what forms should such response take?
  • Renting in the time of COVID-19: understanding the impacts.The economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has placed many in the rental market at risk; they face uncertainty, tenure insecurity and financial hardship. Guided by the needs of policy, this project rapidly generates a nationwide dataset and essential reporting on the impact of COVID-19 on tenants.
  • Housing affordability stress during COVID-19which examines the impacts of COVID-19 on housing affordability stress (i.e. paying more than 30% of income for housing) for home buyers and tenants across different housing types and household configurations.

Other projects will consider pathways to regional recovery, understanding the impacts of policy responses to the pandemic, impacts on landlords as well as tenants, and impacts on those in marginal housing settings.

For more information and an overview of each of the eight rapid-response projects, click here.

Amount of construction work done on the decline

The trend estimate for total residential work done fell 3.48% in the March quarter 2020, representing a -7.46% fall YOY.

Over the same period the trend estimate for total new residential work done over the quarter fell 1.06% QOQ, resulting in a 6.45% drop YOY.

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

  • 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 jason.fletcher@georgiou.com.au.