From the CEO

Let’s cast our minds back to 2018. The world was free and uninhibited without masks, travel restrictions and looks of horror if others coughed in your direction. Harvey Weinstein was arrested. Harry and Meghan got married. The great Stephen Hawking passed away. AND here in Perth the State Government released the green paper concepts for a more strategically-led planning system. The key reform principles in the green paper of fairness, transparency, integrity and efficiency were well received and subsequently fed into what we now know to be Phase 2 of Planning Reform.

So it was with great excitement that I received a letter from the Chairman of the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) late Friday that a review is underway of the structure and operations of the WAPC (that’s recommendation C9 in the Planning Reform Action Plan). After chatting with the Chairman yesterday, it’s great to see the enthusiasm behind delivering a more strategically focused Commission with words such as ‘fit for purpose arrangements for the provision of technical agency inputs’ and ‘arrangements for the WAPC to lead key land use planning and infrastructure coordination outside the scope of IWA’ music to my ears.

The journey from the self-described ‘complex, legalistic and unresponsive’ planning system is well on its way. We must acknowledge the efforts of the Minister and this Government in tackling substantive reform. In the words of Stephen Hawking – “the universe doesn’t allow perfection.” Nor should we be seeking it. As an industry we must continue to lean into the constructive conversation on positive change for a better WA.

WAPC Review announced

UDIA WA was pleased to receive a letter from WAPC Chairman David Caddy recently advising that a formal review of the structure and operations of the Western Australian Planning Commission will be conducted.

The review comes following extensive advocacy from UDIA WA over several years and forms part of the State Government’s 2019 Action Plan for Planning Reform.  It will be led by Mr Caddy and will consider a range of options including:

  • An independent WAPC board comprising seven to 10 members;
  • A more flexible committee structure able to form and disband responding to emerging challenges, work programs and projects (noting that the Statutory Planning Committee and Executive, Finance and Property Committee perform core functions and will continue);
  • Fit for purpose arrangements for the provision of technical agency inputs as required;
  • Clear arrangements for the WAPC to lead key land use planning and infrastructure coordination, outside the scope of Infrastructure WA; and
  • Any proposed changes to servicing and resourcing arrangements between the WAPC and Department of Planning; Lands and Heritage (DPLH) to better support effective strategic planning and policy development.

Ms Phillida Rodic, who has extensive experience in both private planning consultancy and local government, will be assisting on the review and the aim is to present recommendations to the Minister early in the 2022/23 financial year.

UDIA WA will work collaboratively with the review team to assist and provide advice where relevant.

News flash! HV Subdivision System Charge reduced

UDIA WA is pleased to announce that as of 8 April 2022, the high voltage subdivision System Charge has reduced to $125/kVA. This collaborative decision with Western Power will continue to drive the appropriate pace of reaching the optimum pool balance target of $4m.

Previously, the System Charge was $150/kVA, which had been in effect since 1 May 2021. UDIA WA and Western Power will continue to review charges and rates, to ensure a steady decrease in the HV Pool balance from circa $11.2m down to $4m.

Any project created on or after 8 April 2022, shall have the new rate applied. All existing active projects that have not yet had a quote issued, will also attract the new rate. Any project that has had a quote already issued, will attract the old applicable rate for the life of the project regardless of re-quote.

Interest Rate rise puts focus on affordability

This week’s official cash rate rise, while no surprise to most, has been a catalyst for extensive coverage in the media and in political realms around the cost of living and importantly, housing affordability.

On Tuesday, the RBA lifted the official rate cash rate target by 25 basis points to 35 basis points.  In his speech, RBA Governor Philip Lowe said that these decisions reflect a judgement by the Board that it is now time to begin withdrawing some of the extraordinary monetary support that was put in place to help the Australian economy during the pandemic.

“Two considerations are particularly relevant here. The first is that the economy has been very resilient, unemployment is low and economic growth is expected to be strong this year,” Mr Lowe said.

“The second is that inflation has picked up more quickly, and to a higher level, than was expected and there is evidence that labour costs are increasing more quickly.

“In these circumstances, the Board judged that it was appropriate to start the process of normalising monetary conditions,” Mr Lowe said.

UDIA has warned that this week’s rise is likely to be the first of several before the end of the year, however there are bigger issues at play.

At both a State and Federal level in the lead up to the release of the WA State Budget next week and the Federal Election on 21 May, UDIA WA and UDIA National are advocating strongly for the need to address the looming land and housing supply crisis that will impact greatly on housing affordability.

The WA economy is performing extremely well and there is an expectation of strong population growth as borders are open and people come here for the job opportunities and affordable lifestyle.

That means we must be prepared for ongoing pressure on our housing markets.

In UDIA WA’s State Budget Submission, we made several recommendations around boosting housing supply that the State Government must consider implementing to keep a lid on housing affordability in the longer term.

UDIA WA’s key recommendations in relation to housing supply include:

  1. A workforce attraction strategy to address critical skills shortages
  2. Extend the current ‘off the plan’ duty rebate scheme across the budget forward estimates
  3. Encourage institutional investment in Build to Rent (BTR):
  • Replicate NSW land tax exemptions for BTR projects
  • Encourage the Commonwealth to amend MIT and GST settings for BTR
  1. Increase Keystart threshold limits and index against median house price
  2. Boost affordable housing supply by funding a state based version of the federal NRAS scheme.

Labor’s latest housing plan

UDIA National has responded to the Labor party’s federal election launch over the weekend which included the Help to Buy scheme, which Mr Albanese says will provide 10,000 families each year with homes partly funded by the Federal Government, (up to 40% for new hom% for homes), with a 2% deposit and no mortgage insurance.

Other relevant commitments made included:

  1. An expanded Role for NHFIC as Housing Australia – incorporating new National housing Supply and Affordability Council to incentivise, target and monitor housing supply and affordability in line with our recommendation)
  2. A National Housing and Homelessness Plan – a plan to arrange summit on housing which (a UDIA National Recommendation).
  3. Doubling Foreign Investment fees and penalties – expanding the revenues on the existing legislation with existing concessions and rules unchanged.

In welcoming the announcements, UDIA National has noted that much of Labor’s commitments mirror UDIA National’s advocacy to both major parties following several meetings with Ministerial offices and briefing notes.

UDIA National has achieved significant traction with both the Liberal and Labor Parties with our 2022 Federal Election Platform – A Plan for Prosperity.

For more visit here.

2 teams left! UDIA WA Golf Day

There is space for just two more teams if you are keen to participate in UDIA WA’s popular annual golf day, set to tee off next Friday 13 May.

This is arguably one of the best corporate golf days going around with plenty of opportunity to network and socialize on the course and at the wrap up event. Make the most of the fresh air and fun atmosphere.

Contact our events team or click here to register, but get in quick as this event is a regular sellout!

UDIA WA Membership Renewals this week

UDIA WA will send membership renewal invoices for the 2022/23 year ahead to all key representatives of member organisations in the coming days.

Correspondence from UDIA WA President Col Dutton and UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck was sent to Key Representatives yesterday outlining the Council and Executive’s appreciation for our member’s continued support of the Institute.

UDIA WA maintains a keen focus on providing exceptional service to members on a range of fronts.

We work collaboratively with all levels of government and relevant stakeholders to ensure that the critical importance of our industry is well understood, and WA maintains its status as a place of choice to live, work and invest.

With the new financial year ahead, the UDIA Council and team have an ambitious and exciting year planned for our membership, and we are again counting on your support and continued membership.

Please look out for renewal invoices in the coming days.  We are once again offering an incentive for those who pay their membership in full by June 30, 2022, of a chance to win a table of ten to one of our renowned industry lunches valued at $1,800 ex gst *terms and conditions apply.

UDIA policy update

UDIA’s Liveabilty Committee met this week and discussed housing supply issues, the medium density housing code and received an update from the built form, land use planning and community engagement advisory groups. UDIA WA officers also took part in a UDIA National policy meeting discussing Build-to-Rent and regulatory and taxation changes that would support this sector of the market.

Dwelling approvals data released today

The total number of dwellings approved across the country fell 18.5 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms in March, following a 42.0 per cent rise in February, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Western Australia bucked the national trend, with a 5.1 per cent increase in dwelling approvals along with Queensland which experienced a 12.4 per cent increase.

All other states experienced decline, including Victoria (-34.6 per cent), Tasmania (-27.3 per cent), New South Wales (-23.9 per cent), and South Australia (-23.5 per cent), in seasonally adjusted terms.

Approvals for private sector houses rose in Queensland (5.8 per cent) and Western Australia (0.3 per cent) but fell in all other mainland states: New South Wales (-7.5 per cent), Victoria (-5.0 per cent), and South Australia (-2.2 per cent), in seasonally adjusted terms.

Home loan commitments continue to rise

The value of new housing loan commitments rose 1.6 per cent to $33.3 billion in March 2022 (seasonally adjusted). This followed a fall of 3.5 per cent in February, after reaching a record high of $33.9 billion in January, according to data released on Wednesday from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

With the exception of February 2022, the value of investor loan commitments has had monthly increases since November 2020. In March, increases were reported for all states and territories with high proportional increases in Queensland (6.7%), South Australia (8.5%), Western Australia (5.9%), the Australian Capital territory (14.9%) and the Northern Territory (32.4%).

Rises in the value of owner-occupier loan commitments were reported in all states and territories. The value of owner-occupier loan commitments rose for the purchase of existing dwellings, purchase of newly erected dwellings and for alterations and additions while commitments for the construction of new dwellings fell.

Join Minister Carey for lunch

On Friday 10 June the Minister for Housing, Lands, Homelessness and Local Government the Hon. John Carey MLA is set to give the keynote presentation at our special luncheon event that will focus on strategies to address housing supply and affordability.

Minister Carey will cover how the State Government will leverage each Ministerial portfolio for better housing outcomes; unpack any highlights from the State Budget and Federal Election; discuss the use of alternative construction methods to delivery housing and what can be done to unlock underutlised government land to deliver housing choice.

A panel discussion will follow the Minister’s presentation and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Register here.