From the CEO

The rumour mill has been running hot over the last few weeks with speculation around what a Christmas WA Cabinet reshuffle might look like. With Alannah MacTiernan retiring, her portfolio is up for grabs and hot off the press…. now Dave Kelly has resigned from Cabinet and his position as Minister for Water. The water portfolio is of increasing strategic importance to urban development and the broader community so we are very keen to see who receives this portfolio – with WA Business News predicting Jackie Jarvis as his likely replacement after only 18 months in Parliament.

As in a good game of musical chairs, it will be fascinating to see who lands a seat in the McGowan Government Cabinet and equally, who is left standing. UDIA WA has been pleased with the engagement and responsiveness of our key Cabinet Ministers to date and we look forward to working with the revised line up.

In more news hot off the press today, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP announced the Federal Government’s response to the Samuels Review of the EPBC Act – announcing Labor’s “Nature Positive Plan: better for the environment, better for business.” The first line of the Ministers media statement says it all: “Australia’s environment laws are broken”. Mirroring our discussions with the Minister last week in Canberra, UDIA are welcoming her commitment to clear standards, improving and speeding up decisions, and building trust and integrity. As the management of offsets and securing ‘like for like’ is currently near on impossible, her proposed approach to address this has been equally as encouraging and we are working closely with the Minister and her Department around the detail – as we all know that’s where the devil lives.

Finally, we are excited to release our first lunch event of 2023 where UDIA will launch the initial findings from its Development Ready Pipeline analysis for housing supply across Perth & Peel.  Joined by our Housing Minister, the Hon. John Carey MLA and the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation Chief Origination Director Jon Ross, we will take a strategic look at addressing housing supply across the continuum. There is no question that at all levels of government, there is a commitment to ensure we have sufficient housing choice. What remains unanswered is how we do that in the current environment. I encourage you to join us for this important conversation as you, our valued members, are a critical part of the solution.

Collaborative approach to EPBC Act welcomed by UDIA

UDIA has welcomed the Government’s response to Professor Graeme Samuel’s review into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and expressed support for the collaborative approach taken with all stakeholders.

This morning, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, Federal Minister for Environment and Water released the Nature Positive Plan: better for the environment, better for business in response to the review. In launching the plan, Minister Plibersek said that the Government aims to build legislation on three basic principles:  clear national standards of environmental protection, improving and speeding up decisions, and building trust and integrity.

It is early days on an ambitious and challenging policy reform, with much of the detail yet to be resolved, but the Government’s approach has given industry confidence that a system can be designed that balances the twin aims of streamlining the operation of the EPBC to improve environmental outcomes with quicker decision-making, and reversing the low supply of housing which is threatening to worsen the spiraling affordability crisis.

“The development industry has been aligned with the Commonwealth Government’s overall approach – land in need of protection should be preserved, and land that should be used to create our cities, towns and businesses must have a simple, clear framework that can be efficiently navigated for quick environmental decisions before committing to projects,” said Maxwell Shifman, UDIA National President.

“A Federal EPA and the EPBC Act must be rules based, transparent and accountable to the Minister so everyone can know clearly, upfront, whether land is open and available for development. This ensures industry and the businesses that rely on the approvals system, can focus on delivering development-ready land without endless delays, duplication of effort, ultimately driving up costs for consumers,” said Mr Shifman.

Getting this right is critical for the environment, industry and the community. Shortages of new land and dwellings, coupled with increasing costs and planning/approval delays, have driven up the cost of new homes, leading to higher rents and pushing more Australians into needing government supported housing that suffer from the same supply scarcity and stretched capacity.

The Federal Government’s response to the Samuel’s review is only the start. The critical work begins now, collaborating with industry, Government and all stakeholders on reforms to deliver an Environmental planning system that works.

UDIA looks forward to working closely with Government and stakeholders to hammer out the details on this much-needed reform.

More on the plan here.

UDIA engagement with Western Power

On 2 December, UDIA WA met with the CEO of Western Power and the A/Executive Manager Asset Operations.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss industry challenges, including delays with Design Information Packages and Distribution Connections to secure clearances and titles, and solutions moving forward.  It was acknowledged that the challenges being experienced are not short-term – quick wins are needed but we also need a sustainable process to ensure issues do not continue to be encountered, particularly with applications are anticipated to increase.

Western Power has rationalised work priorities to reallocate resourcing to the Customer Connections area (including re-establishing the Land Development team) and are exploring process changes, with a new Change Manager coming on board this week and an action plan to be provided.  UDIA proposed an audit process be piloted in the short term and will continue to engage regularly with Western Power around the process review and issues resolution.

Minister Kelly resigns

At a press conference this afternoon, Minister for Water and Forestry the Hon. Dave Kelly, MLA announced he will resign as a Minister.  Minister Kelly will remain in Parliament on the backbench.

UDIA WA extends our appreciation for Minister Kelly during his time in the Water portfolio.  The resignation follows the announcement that Labor stalwart the Hon. Alannah MacTiernan would also resign from Cabinet after a long and illustrious career in local, state and federal government positions.

UDIA encouraged by re-invigoration of Infrastructure Australia

UDIA has congratulated the Federal Government on expanding the Infrastructure Australia (IA) remit to social infrastructure, to ensure Australia gets the housing communities it needs under Federal infrastructure strategies.

This dovetails into UDIA National’s core ask that housing and community development be considered as part of IA’s remit.

We are pleased that Government has listened to industry and UDIA National on harnessing IA more completely in the process of city building, to ensure the Federal Government gets the best possible value for money. We are also keen to see IA become more active across national planning and supporting consistent assessment of infrastructure priorities

This should also involve Federal Government infrastructure spend being tied to actual plans for cities and regional landscapes so there is a clear identifiable objective that can be monitored and measured. We are keen to see IA taking a more active role in ensuring housing is fully considered in determining viable infrastructure plans.

UDIA attends Investor Roundtable

On 25 November UDIA President Maxwell Shiffman attended the Treasurer’s Investor Roundtable on Housing investment in Sydney. During the roundtable UDIA raised that:

  • to successfully close the affordable housing gap, we will need to harness private developer capacity, and that an NRAS 2.0 should be considered; and
  • part of that solution is incentivising private affordable housing/BTR. Incentivising the rental gap means the Future Fund can boost build to 21,000 dwellings a year off the Future Fund’s interest alone.

Importantly, there was clear recognition that we can’t begin to address housing affordability without boosting supply.

The Federal Government intends to use the National Housing Accord and the Future Fund to bring all stakeholders together on a solution. Several additional meetings of the roundtable are planned in the coming year.

More on UDIA National on the separate blog here.

Vale Harry Hoffman OAM

UDIA WA Council and Executive extend our sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the late Harry Hoffman OAM, industry stalwart and mentor to many in the development industry. Mr Hoffman passed away this week at the age of 92.

Mr Hoffman was the founder of development company and longstanding UDIA WA member company, the Ardross Group, and worked tirelessly throughout his successful career and giving back through his many philanthropic pursuits.

Mr Hoffman was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2000 for his philanthropy to community groups and educational institutions, a Centenary Medal in 2003, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2019 for significant service to the community through charitable organisations.

The WA Business News ran an article outlining Mr Hoffman’s many achievements here (paywall).

IWA Market Capacity Workshop

On 1 December, the Infrastructure SAG Chair, and a member of the UDIA team, participated in a workshop to discuss potential reforms to address market capacity challenges and improve productivity in the construction sector.  This work is in response to a request from the Premier for IWA to engage with the construction industry, public sector agencies, and Government Trading Enterprises (GTEs) to identify and recommend reforms.

IWA’s first Construction Market Capacity Workshop was held on 21 September 2022 and was attended by over 90 representatives across 65 organisations, including from UDIA.

The draft reform solutions discussed at the second workshop last week included developing a pipeline of significant projects and programs, a dynamic supply and demand data tool, a central Portfolio Management Office, a WA Skilled Construction Worker Registration and Licencing Scheme, a Construction Industry Labour Agreement, review of policy levers, incentivising gender diversity and streamlined bid processes.

IWA is reviewing the workshop outcomes and will present a final report to government early in the new year.

UDIA WA Policy Team in Action

This week the UDIA WA Policy Team completed the last round of Standing Advisory Group and Committee meetings for 2022, including Infrastructure, Environment, Economic and Liveability. There were a lot of fruitful discussions and updates from engagement with various Federal Ministers, including around issues such as the National Housing Accord, migration, skills and training, and Government’s response to the Samuel’s Review of the EPBC Act.

The Economic Committee is making progress around the Development Contributions Scheme Position Statement Discussion Paper, including engaging with the GAPP Councils, and will be working with the Infrastructure SAG to explore DCPs in an infill setting.  The Liveability Committee discussed further advocacy around the Medium Density Code and opportunities to increase climate literacy through UDIA activities.  The Infrastructure SAG also continues to engage with service agencies and Infrastructure WA on industry challenges.

Latest edition of The Urbanist published

The final edition for 2022 of UDIA WA’s flagship magazine The Urbanist was released to members earlier this week.

This edition is focused on themes that will be explored at the UDIA National Congress here in Perth in 2023.

We are also pleased to feature a cover story including an interview with Federal Minister for Housing the Hon. Julie Collins on the implementation of the Housing Accord and broader issues of housing supply and affordability.

To read this edition, visit here.

New event launch!

UDIA WA’s first industry luncheon for 2023 has now been opened for registrations!

As always, we are dedicated to ensuring our event program is tailored specifically to our members’ needs in relation to current issues, challenges and opportunities.  Delivering housing choice across the continuum is a key area of focus for UDIA WA in relation to our policy agenda and in relation to our members’ day-to-day operations.

This event brings together some of the key players integral to the delivery of affordable housing supply including Minister for Housing the Hon. John Carey MLA, Chief Origination Director at NHFIC Jon Ross and UDIA WA Vice President Jane Bennet along with Managing Director of Celsius Property Group Richard Pappas.

Join us for this important event that will also include the launch of UDIA’s Development Ready Pipeline pilot project focused on forward land supply availability, enabling infrastructure and environmental approvals across Metropolitan Perth. This project will produce a development industry curated assessment of the short- and medium-term pipeline of actual/realisable land supply for forward residential development across each of Australia’s capital cities.

Register here.