- Minister Carey added the Planning portfolio to his raft of responsibilities in June 2023.
- Addressing issues in the planning and environmental approvals space requires collaboration between the State and Commonwealth.
- The Minister's vision is based around providing a range of different housing options for Western Australians in the places where they want to live.
The Hon. John Carey, MLA added the Planning portfolio to his raft of responsibilities in June 2023, now WA’s Minister for Planning; Lands; Housing and Homelessness, he is well positioned to make real change in relation to the current housing supply and affordability challenges facing Western Australia.
The Urbanist sat down with the Minister on the eve of a National Cabinet meeting in Brisbane that focused on housing supply and affordability at a national level, a timely opportunity to discuss the importance of a coordinated approach across government and industry to address supply across the housing continuum.
“For me, as Minister for Housing and now Planning, I understand that we’ve got to do everything we can to boost housing supply across that continuum,” Minister Carey said.
“In this very challenging time in regard to housing, with a tight rental market and a need for more supply, we have a deep appreciation that any addition to housing supply to any part of the continuum is critical.
“We still need those 4×2 homes that West Australians love, but we also need to facilitate infill and density, which is a critical part of the proposition,” Minister Carey said.
UDIA at a state and national level has advocated strongly for Government to unlock housing supply and streamline processes so that industry can play its role in delivering housing to the market efficiently and affordably.
The Institute welcomed the Minister’s appointment to the Planning portfolio in June expecting that the appointment would ensure a strong focus from the State Government across the housing continuum.
“It is clear to me that there are a multitude of factors at play,” Minister Carey said.
“Clearly at a national level, planning reform has been identified as a critical issue.
“Skilled labour is another critical part of the equation, and our government is rolling out a significant package to attract skilled workers to WA to build homes.
“I do think the other part is that broader long-term planning around land availability and our vision for Perth into the future and making sure we have that available land for new homes,” Minister Carey said.
That longer term planning for land supply is a challenge that UDIA has been working on, with the UDIA Development Ready Pipeline (DRP) project aimed at getting a more granular understanding of what the pipeline of supply looks like in five-, ten- and fifteen-year timeframes. The DRP also identifies what the primary constraints are on bringing land to market that has been zoned for urban development.
At a state level, the WA Government has led the way in relation to planning reform and a willingness to tackle the issues around the delivery of social and affordable housing in particular.
“We have a record investment of $2.6 billion to deliver 4,000 social homes and we have been throwing ‘the kitchen sink’ so to speak in terms of delivering those homes including changing up delivery models, alternative building products, refurbishment of existing stock as well as looking at lazy land and how we can bring that to the market,” Minister Carey said.
“We have also created an infrastructure fund to help subsidise infill, density and regional worker accommodation.
“We’re trying to use every lever we can across the spectrum of policies, and also trying to identify blockages that stand in the way of delivering more social and affordable housing.”
UDIA has identified the integration or collaboration between planning and environmental approvals processes as a particular area where significant improvement needs to be made to streamline processes and minimise unnecessary duplication.
Minister Carey notes that addressing issues in the planning and environmental approvals space requires collaboration between the State and Commonwealth.
“I’m prepared to look at the issues from a planning perspective in terms of the timeframes, concurrency and decision making,” Minister Carey said. “The willingness of agencies to undertake concurrent assessment processes and ultimately decision making is important in relation to timeframes.”
“It is my intention to get developers around the table to talk about the short-term wins that we can pursue and the longer-term reforms that we can consider.”
While addressing short term issues is critical in the context of the current housing supply crisis, a longer-term vision for Perth’s urban growth and housing needs is also essential to ensure we are able to continue to meet the housing needs of a diverse and growing population.
The Minister shares that his vision is based around providing a range of different housing options for Western Australians in the places where they want to live.
“Providing people with that real choice, while boosting overall supply and ensuring that for those who are doing it tough, our most vulnerable, that they are provided secure housing,” Minister Carey said.
“I hope that at the end of my term in these portfolios, people can see that our government used every lever it could to tackle the immediate challenge that we face, that is critically boosting housing supply, but also making major structural changes to policy that ensures the pipeline into the future.”
“There is the immediate challenge and ensuring we have the right policies in place for long term supply, but there is also boosting infill and density which is critical to the future of Perth.”
The Minister appears laser focused on addressing housing supply, and he is keen to collaborate and listen to private industry’s perspective.
“I have an open-door policy, I don’t make any decision lightly and I know the decisions I make impact on small and medium builders through to larger developers,” Minister Carey said.
“I’m interested in testing new ideas, and I want to hear what the potential reforms and solutions are to the challenges that need addressing.”
The Minister has already proven that willingness to listen and take action in his first few months in the Planning portfolio.
UDIA WA has recently welcomed decisions including the implementation of interim measures for public open space contributions for infill development while a broader Public Open Space policy review is undertaken, as well as the decision to amend the new Medium Density Code and defer its gazettal.
The Institute meets regularly with the Minister’s office to ensure our members are well represented and that willingness to collaborate and make a positive contribution is appreciated by Minister Carey.
“I am always happy to engage with your organisation and I deeply respect the UDIA and I am always happy to engage with your members,” Minister Carey said.
This story was originally published in The Urbanist magazine, an official publication of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (WA). It has been edited for republication by The Property Tribune.
The Property Tribune thanks the UDIA WA for the opportunity to republish the work, and share thought leadership in relation to urban development and community creation with our readers.
Read the original copy of The Urbanist by heading to UDIA WA’s website under the News tab.