Economy

A strong and resilient economy is the backbone of a successful state and ensures that our communities are able to thrive.

The Western Australian economy has weathered the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic exceptionally well to date, due to the strong leadership and quick decision making of the McGowan Government. However, the storm has not yet passed, and significant risks remain.

The willingness of the state government to work collaboratively with industry on necessary measures to support jobs in housing and construction has ensured WA’s economy has outperformed other states and created an employment pipeline that will support the industry through to the end of 2021. However, the outlook beyond this remains uncertain with the State Budget forecasting subdued growth of 1.25% and 1.5% for 2022-23 and 2023-24.

More pressingly, the looming rental crisis poses a serious threat to economic growth. A vacancy rate as low as 0.8% could undermine our competitive advantage and ability to attract new workers to the State unless urgently addressed.

Looking to the medium and longer term, UDIA’s priorities consider how we can achieve greater certainty and support for longer term growth in the WA economy by securing sustainable population growth, employment stability and fostering investment opportunities.

Similarly, whilst infrastructure investment has provided a platform to maintain jobs, opportunities to leverage investment to create longer-term jobs should be further explored, maximising the community benefits of the infrastructure and the State’s return on its investment.

Alongside the willingness to listen to and work with industry, UDIA congratulates the government for the planning reform agenda that has been delivered over the past 12 months. Whilst these amendments have been welcomed, industry remains constrained by a rigid regulatory framework that offers little certainty whilst also failing to encourage innovation and support optimal outcomes.

Although the development industry is already a significant employer, if afforded with the appropriate opportunities and a supportive regulatory framework, our industry can play a central role in delivering the State’s economic renaissance and creating continued, sustainable job opportunities.

UDIA RECOMMENDS

Key Priorities – Economy

    • Urgently adopt incentives that encourage the purchase of newly built housing stock by investors to achieve the State Housing Strategy’s target of 130,000 new homes to achieve a more diverse rental sector;
    • Extend the current 75% stamp duty rebate for Off the Plan apartments to December 2022 and expand it to include under construction projects, with the rebate made available at the time of settlement (as per FHOG);
    • End the moratorium on rental evictions – this is stymieing investment and exacerbating the rental crisis;
    • Place a moratorium on the Foreign Buyers Surcharge until the rental vacancy rate lifts to more sustainable levels; and
    • Commit to a longer term plan to remove stamp duty which is a barrier to ‘right sizing’ in favour of a more equitable system.

    • Urgently implement draft SPP3.6 and adopt measures to ensure the governance of contribution funds is managed with transparency and infrastructure is delivered efficiently and effectively;
    • Adopt a more integrated and strategic approach to infrastructure planning. Specifically, Infrastructure WA should establish a clear pipeline of priority infrastructure projects to support strategic development in infill, greenfield and regional growth areas;
    • Roll out strategic infrastructure within set timeframes so private sector can identify and leverage opportunities;
    • Unlock the $2 billion currently held in local governments’ Development Contribution Schemes and bring forward investment in community infrastructure;
    • Collaborate with industry to identify strategic projects that the $444 million balance of the Metropolitan Region Fund could be spent on; and
    • Together with industry, investigate private financing options to accelerate infrastructure roll out.

    • Develop a Population Strategy that maps out a sustainable plan for population growth;
    • 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; and
    • Ensure our emerging skills base is suited to the current and future needs of the economy.

    • Foster greater intra-government and development industry collaboration and ensure all planning referral agencies seek to facilitate the State Government’s development objectives;
    • Adjust the market led proposals policy settings to encourage innovation and foster greater opportunities for public-private sector partnerships; and
    • Continue to implement the Planning Reform agenda, specifically to:
      • Provide more consistent state and local government planning policy;
      • Review the structure plan approvals process to implement a streamlined process for major, strategic structure planning projects that deliver jobs, housing diversity and support strategic infrastructure delivery;
      • Work closely with DPLH and DWER to integrate water modelling and the planning process, supported by a culture of collaboration and transparency between industry and government agencies; and
      • Enforce statutory timeframes for referral agencies.