WA Policy and Advocacy Update

Western Australia housing strategy

The Department of Communities is leading the development of a new Western Australia Housing Strategy 2020-2030 aimed at creating a more sustainable and responsive housing system. The strategy will be delivered in the first half of 2020. 

The department held a wide range of conversation workshops towards the end of 2019 to help inform the development of the strategy. The Western Australia Chapter was represented by State Manager Beata Davey and President Peter Hobbs. A key issue highlighted during the workshop was that the definition of “affordability” needed to include life cycle assessment costs. In addition, sustainability initiatives to ensure true life cycle affordability also needed to be implemented.

Design WA

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage continues planning reform in the State through the development of Design WA  which aims to provide a flexible performance based planning system and the associated Action Plan for Planning Reform which aims to remove red-tape from planning processes. The Western Australian Chapter has contributed to a wide range of activities led by the department to progress the reform agenda, including for example:

  • nominating Institute delegates to “Stakeholder Reference Groups” and “Initiative Working Groups” to support the implementation of Action Plan. This process commenced in August 2019.
  • The Western Australia Chapter provided a submission in response to Design WA Stage 2: SPP7.2 Precinct Design released for public consultation in October 2019 and considered the potential impacts and changes that may be required to the planning framework to support effective implementation for planning proposals that require a high level of planning and design focus due to their complexity – such as planned infill development, activity centre designation or areas with certain values such as heritage or local character, as well as the introduction of the concept of design review into precinct planning.
  • The Western Australian Chapter has appointed delegates to contribute to the Design WA Stage 3: Medium Density Engagement Groups. Delegates have been appointed to the Medium Density Advisory Group, Finance Advisory Group and Reference Group with workshops scheduled from late 2019 through into 2020.
  • To ensure all members remain informed and have an opportunity to participate, the Western Australian Chapter hosted an Urban Design Form: Design WA Update in late November 2019. This Forum was a well-attended free event with presentations from the Government Architect, Geoff Warn, and Director of Design WA, Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, Nic Brunsdon.

The Chapter will continue to proactively and positively engage with the WA government as planning reform and public consultation continues throughout 2020.

Building regulation reform

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety has released a discussion paper seeking views on ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the commercial building approval process, including the process for approving apartment buildings (class 2-9 buildings).

The objectives of the reform are to improve compliance with building standards; and partially fulfil the Government’s commitment to implement the recommendations in the Building Confidence Report. The consultation period closes on 3 April 2020.  Read more here 

At the conclusion of the public comment period the department will analyse the feedback received from stakeholders and prepare a Decision Regulatory Impact Statement recommending a final policy position. The Government will then decide which reforms to adopt, based on feedback from industry and the community.

The Western Australia Chapter with support from General Manager Policy, Advocacy and Education Leanne Hardwicke will coordinate a formal response by the Institute to the discussion paper.

State climate policy

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has sought public comment on climate change issues and opportunities to help inform the development of a new state climate policy. An Issues paper and consultation process was undertaken in September 2019. 

The Western Australia Chapter provided a submission in response to the Issues Paper which outlined that the Institute was pleased that the State Government was openly discussing climate change issues. It also highlighted that along with minimising impact of climate change by reducing and offsetting carbon emissions, the resilience of the built environment to extreme weather events and predicted climate change impacts also needed to be enhanced.

Western Australia Government Ethical Procurement Framework

On 18 February 2019, the WA Cabinet approved a proposal to develop an Ethical Procurement Framework. The Framework is designed to ensure that the Western Australian Government does business with suppliers who act ethically. Work has commenced on scoping a supplier code of conduct (the Responsible Supplier Pact) that describes the State’s expectations of suppliers.

Work has also commenced on developing a debarment regime to establish the grounds, process and governance that allows suppliers to be excluded or suspended from government contracts. Other initiatives are also being examined, such as better supplier due diligence tools to enable better procurement decisions.

State Manager, Beata Davey and Chapter President, Peter Hobbs will continue to meet with members of the Capital Works Procurement Team managing the Framework development. The Team has also been made aware of the Institute’s work on procurement and novation.