Economy

Context

A strong, diverse economy is critical to maintaining our standard of living and securing the state’s future prosperity. The current state government is to be commended for the sensible fiscal management strategy that has assisted in rebuilding the budget surplus after several years of deficit.

However, in recent years the State has suffered with soft economic growth. This has led to population growth stalling with large numbers of people leaving WA in search of jobs in
Australia’s Eastern States. Although unemployment figures have been improving recently, many remain ‘under-employed’ in search of additional working hours. Low wage growth has not kept pace with increases in the costs of living, leaving many struggling to make ends meet.

Against this economic backdrop, the residential property market has experienced several consecutive years of decline, with 35,000 jobs lost in the construction sector alone since
2015. Yet, despite these jobs losses, the urban development industry remains the state’s third largest employer and second largest full-time employer, second to only the resources sector, contributing $27.8 billion to the State’s economy.

The health of the development industry remains critical to the success of the broader WA economy. As such, support is needed to retain jobs within the development sector and ensure its future workforce retains the necessary skills and capacity to provide homes efficiently in times of more normalised level of demand. Without this, the State is likely to experience future housing affordability pressures, harming the competitiveness of our economy.

The State Government should seek to capitalise on the property development industry’s potential for growth, which in Perth alone is estimated to create an additional 5,000 jobs
by 2025, contributing an additional $213m to Gross Value Add. (Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre report, Future-Proofing the WA Economy) Supporting our economy and local jobs is essential to supporting the health and wellbeing of our communities. A long-term vision is needed for Perth to inform strategic infrastructure investment and government policy ensuring that we are able to attract and retain the best and brightest people to our state which will be a critical factor in our future economic success.

UDIA RECOMMENDS

Five Key Priorities – Economy

  • Leverage infrastructure investment to create jobs
    • Establish a strategic pipeline of priority infrastructure projects for each of WA’s housing markets – infill, greenfield and regional – detailing cost, benefit, timing and funding
    • Adopt an amended SPP 3.6 Infrastructure Contributions and enforce timely delivery of community infrastructure by local government authorities
    • Ensure that housing is included as a key component of the State Infrastructure Strategy to be developed by Infrastructure WA
  • Foster population growth
    • Attract and develop local workforce to meet skill needs and create local jobs
    • Increasing the number of occupations on the WA Skilled Migration List
    • Prioritising and adequately funding the implementation of StudyPerth to increase the number of international students and establish Perth as the international education destination of choice
    • Work with the Federal Government’s Centre for Population to provide accurate forecasting, demographic profiling and trends in order to influence population policy and maximise opportunities for growth in WA
  • Stimulate the housing market
    • Make permanent the temporary changes to income limits under Keystart, lift the purchase price cap for families to $600,000 and investigate other lending options
    • Expand $10,000 first home owners grant to any new build for 12 months with immediate implementation
  • Create a bold vision for Perth
    • Ensure that the creation of a Brand Perth is a central component of Brand WA and expedite its development and implementation
    • Integrate Perth & Peel @3.5 million planning framework to align with a Brand Perth that provides government, the private sector and the community with contextual aspiration for the future growth of our city
    • Finalise the first stage of a City Deal for Perth that delivers infrastructure to attract jobs, migrants, tourists and the associated economic benefits
  • Cut red tape and inefficient fees and charges
    • Coordinated and strategic approach to significant improvement in approval timeframes across government (eg. Urban water and coastal setbacks)
    • Ensure reforms included in the Planning Reform Action Plan are implemented in a timely manner with industry collaboration. Specifically:
      • Consistent State and Local Government planning policy
      • Consistent levels of local government delegation
      • WAPC and Planning to lead resolution of key issues supported by appropriate resourcing
      • Digitising the planning system
      • Enforce statutory timeframes for referral agencies
    • Finalise Omnibus Amendment to Planning Regulations to streamline structure planning processes and update deemed provisions for consistent local planning schemes