Treasurer presents 2019/20 State Budget

UDIA attended the state budget lock up this morning to get the lowdown on the state budget in advance of its formal release earlier this afternoon.  The good news is that the budget is back in surplus and the government is on track to reach it’s 150,000 new jobs target.

While the relaxation of Keystart criteria was announced last week as part of what the government labelled a ‘housing stimulus package’, there were no further measures included in the budget to stimulate the market.

UDIA provided members with a full rundown on what was included in the budget in our Member Alert here.

Housing economics for non-economists

UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck participated in an event hosted by Shelter WA on Wednesday to discuss housing economics.  Third in four-part series, this event focused on land use planning and housing supply.

Professor Steven Rowley’s key note presentation provided an overview of how the planning system regulates land and housing supply and also the market drivers.  Professor Rowley also discussed the problems with urban regulation including that it can be unresponsive to market conditions and can create delays and uncertainty.

The panel session looked at what developers want from the planning system, the provision of affordable housing and how to stimulate housing supply.  Tanya highlighted the importance of a more streamlined planning system via the implementation of planning reform recommendations so that developers can deliver affordable, efficient land and housing to meet a range of people’s needs.

RBA holds rates

Despite much conjecture that the Reserve Bank may cut the official cash rate down to 1.25%, the RBA decided to hold rates at 1.5% for this month.  UDIA had hoped that a downward move may assist in stimulating the market here in WA and there is the possibility that the cut may be made next month, following the federal election.

The RBA’s full statement available here.

Review of the uncontaminated fill thresholds

As part of the stakeholder reference group, UDIA attended a meeting this week with the Minister for Environment, Hon Steven Dawson MLC and opposition environment spokesman Dr Steve Thomas MLC, in which the findings of the Review of the Uncontaminated Fill Thresholds (Table 6 of the Landfill Waste Classification and Waste Definitions 1996 (as amended 2018)) were presented. UDIA along with other stakeholders highlight the need for further reform of the statutory requirements governing waste and fill in order to encourage the best possible social and environmental outcomes. UDIA looks forward to working with DWER with this regard and will update members of the Governments response to the review and the findings of the independent experts as soon as the determination is made.

Meeting with Minister for Water Chief of Staff

UDIA met with staff from the Minister for Water, Hon Dave Kelly Office last week and discussed a range of challenges facing the development industry relevant to the water portfolio. UDIA is encouraged by the Minister’s Office willingness to engage with industry and looks forward to meeting with Minister Kelly in June to further discuss solutions to our urban water challenges.

Bushfire policy framework updates

The WAPC has made updates to the model subdivision conditions relating to bushfire under Part 7 – Fire and Emergency conditions, in the Model Subdivision Conditions Schedule.

The primary changes include:

  • a new condition to reflect a streamlined implementation approach of new bushfire management plan templates
  • new easement conditions to facilitate bushfire service access easements
  • a new reserve condition where a strategic water tank is proposed
  • a new UXO condition to replace existing UXO conditions and reflect revised assessment procedures.

As of 1 May the 2019 NCC/BCA has been adopted by all states and territories. As the 2019 BCA edition references the 2018 version of AS3959, all BAL assessments for planning applications should from this date be in accordance with the 2018 version of AS3959.

Key changes of the BAL assessment changes from the 2009 and 2018 editions include:

  • The removal of low trees and shrubs from the Woodland classification – see comparison of image B – 05 from the various standards to GROUP G Grass land. See ‘Fig 2.4(A) Classification of Vegetation – Summary’
  • Clarification that, “In assessing vegetation classes for forests, woodlands and rainforests, the classified vegetation will be determined by the unmanaged understorey rather than either the canopy (drip line) or the trunk of any trees.” See ‘Figure 2.2 example of varying slope ranges for assessment’ in AS3959-2018 for additional details.

New Strata Reform advice available

Following the passage of the strata tile reform legislation package late last year, new advice is now available on the Department of Planning; Lands and Heritage website.

To find out visit here.

Western Power updates to manuals, guides and standards

Please see updates to the following documents:

  • Restructured Distribution Substation Plant manual (DSPM) here
  • New Distribution Customer Connection Requirements (DCCR) here
  • Amended Underground Distribution Schemes Manual (UDS) here
  • Amended WA Distribution Connections Manual (WADCM) here

These changes have come as a result of the withdrawal and replacement of the Distribution Substation Manual (DSM) with the creation of two new documents being the Distribution Customer Connection Requirements (DCCR) and the Distribution Substation Plant Manual (DSPM).

Wetland and bloom management sharing platform

WALGA and New WAter Ways have established a new interactive map and will host biannual meetings to assist Local Governments in sharing the outcomes of wetland algal treatments.

The aim of the initiative is to assist Local Governments to identify and adopt effective treatments, optimise use of scarce resources and increase our collective understanding of options for wetland management.

Many Local Governments are experiencing issues with algal blooms in natural and constructed wetlands. Treatments being applied to wetlands include, but are not limited to:

  • enzymes and algacides
  • phoslock and bentonite clay
  • ultrasonic treatments
  • dye
  • floating wetlands
  • manual removal

New WAter Ways has added a Wetland Algae Management category to their Interactive Map, which can be used to assist Local Governments to share information on treatments trialled, approximate costs, and outcomes at individual wetlands.

WALGA will assist with the sharing of information by facilitating two meetings per year for Local Government to discuss treatment case studies and attend wetland site visits.

Additionally, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) have expressed interest in undertaking ongoing monitoring of wetland parameters to provide quantitative data on applied treatments, if there are sufficient project sites to ensure a rigorous scientific study.

Please express your interest in this initiative and/or submit your project information using the short template, and emailing it to Melanie Davies, WALGA Biodiversity and Sustainability Project Officer.

Latest on building approvals

According to the latest from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), building approval numbers for houses in WA increased 6.4% month-on-month (MoM) in March to 1,002, and lifted 7.3% from the same time last year, following three consecutive months of annual decreases.

The value of new WA private sector building jobs for houses increased 11.5% MoM and 9.6% YoY in March to $290.3 million. The value of other residential (excluding houses) building jobs fell 35.5% over the month to sit at $73.2 million, but was 70.2% higher than at the same time in 2018.

In March, the value of total residential building jobs in WA fell slightly from the previous month, recording a decrease of 0.8% MoM, but lifted 16.0% from the same time in 2018 to $422.7 million.

More information 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

Approved methods for mandatory reporting under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Regulations 2008 (here). Submissions close Monday 27 May, 2019.

Principles on urban policy

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released their principles for Urban Policy in relation to ‘building smart, sustainable and inclusive cities.

The Principles were co-developed with a range of international organisations, development banks, networks of cities and local governments, research institutes and academia, and the private sector.

There are 11 policy statements relating to targeting an effective scale of policy action; adopting coherent, integrated and effective strategy to build smart, sustainable and inclusive cities; and engaging stakeholders in a co-designed, co-implemented and co-monitored urban policy.

More here

The Internet of Things (IOT)

Although a buzz word, the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is really about the trend for all appliances and equipment to have networking capability. Implementing network connectivity into appliances and equipment is happening today and it is going to change the world – here’s why….read our guest blog article from Opticomm here.