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News & Media

COVID 19 Business Alerts - Updated 13 May 2020

Wed 13 May 2020

Monday 27 April 2020 - 3:14pm

WEEKEND UPDATE

  • NSW Government announces $440 million in land tax relief available ‘within weeks’ for commercial and residential sectors
  • Property Council endorses Infrastructure NSW Work, Health and Safety Commitment
  • NSW Government announces $395 Economic Stimulus Package to Safeguard Council Jobs, Services and Infrastructure

$440 Million in Land Tax Relief to Support Commercial Tenants and Landlords

Following new regulations published by the NSW Government on Friday (see Advocacy Alert here), a further announcement occurred over the weekend regarding the package of support for tenants and landlords which includes up to $440 million in land tax relief, that will be split approximately 50-50 between the commercial and residential sectors.

NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet has said land tax relief would be available ‘within weeks’, with landlords also able to access a further land tax deferral for any outstanding amounts for a three-month period if they have claimed the land tax concession.

Eligible landlords will be able to apply for a land tax concession of up to 25 per cent of their 2020 land tax liability on relevant properties so as long as they pass on the full savings in the form or rent reduction to their tenants,” Mr Perrottet said.

The commercial lease policy will apply to business tenants with a turnover of less than $50 million that experience a 30 per cent (or more) reduction in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.                

If circumstances have not significantly changed, tenants still need to fulfil the terms of their agreements.

For residential tenancies, households must show they have suffered a loss of income equal to or greater than 25 per cent due to COVID-19 and are struggling to make rental payments.

It is expected eligible landlords will be able to apply for land tax rebates from Service NSW from Monday, 4 May 2020. More information is available here and via Service NSW

NSW Work, Health & Safety Commitment Statement from Construction Industry

 Infrastructure NSW has released a Work, Health and Safety Commitment Statement from the construction industry on COVID-19.

The Property Council is one of the peak bodies to have endorsed the statement and the principles therein.

Those guiding principles are:

  • Keeping the construction industry and its workforce safe and healthy;
  • Supporting the industry to not adversely impact the health of communities, and carry out work in accordance with the latest public health advice;
  • Maintaining project continuity to keep people in jobs, the industry sustained, and the continuation of our contribution to Australia's economy.

Read the full statement here.

$395 Economic Stimulus Package to Safeguard Council Jobs, Services and Infrastructure

The NSW Government has announced a $395 million economic stimulus package to safeguard council jobs, local services and infrastructure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has said councils have been hit hard financially and the NSW Government is determined to limit the impacts to keep more people in jobs and allow councils to deliver for communities across the State.

Ensuring that Councils can perform their business-as-usual tasks has been one of the key short term advocacy priorities the Property Council has had.

The package includes a $250 million increase in low-cost loans to eligible councils through the State’s borrowing facility provided by TCorp to kick-start community infrastructure projects.

Other measures will include:

  • Up to $112.5 million from the NSW Government’s ‘Jobs for NSW’ Fund to support a Council Job Retention Allowance of $1,500 per fortnight per employee to limit job losses in the NSW local government sector. The allowance will be paid for up to three months to qualifying staff working in the NSW local government sector.
  • $32.8 million to assist councils meet the cost of the FY2020/21 increase in the Emergency Services Levy. Read more here.

The “JobKeeper-style” support is a particularly welcome initiative. 



Friday 24 April 2020 - 04:35pm

NATIONAL CABINET UPDDATE

  • New guidelines for COVID-safe workplaces
  • Banks to step up bridging finance processing for JobKeeper-eligible businesses

The National Cabinet met again today to discuss a range of practical issues related to Australia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Prime Minister noted that good progress was being made on the core requirements that will possibly enable the lifting of some restrictions in coming weeks. 

T
his includes an expanded testing regime across all states and territories as well as the ongoing development of the contact tracing app. The capacity to respond to and take control of isolated outbreaks such as those in north-west Tasmania and Victoria will also inform the future lifting of restrictions. 

It continues to be the case that state and territory governments can moderate arrangements put in place above the national baseline restrictions. 

National Cabinet has agreed to develop national principles for COVID-19 safe workplaces to enable Australians to return to their workplaces safely and with confidence. They include protocols to protect health as well as deal with any outbreaks in the workplace.

The PM said Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter had been working closely with the COVID-19 Commission and union representatives on a “back-to-work” protocol.  (Earlier this week the Commission announced its Industrial Relations expert working group on workplace safety issues.)

The PM was also questioned about business eligibility for JobKeeper, including for those which were not currently able to access the scheme due to their service entity structures.  

He said there was ongoing discussion with the ATO and Treasury on these implementation issues, but also noted that JobSeeker payments were available to support individuals where the JobKeeper program did not apply. 

The Property Council has been engaging directly with Government, ATO and Treasury on JobKeeper eligibility, with a particular focus on service entity structures and technical issues arising for retirement village operators and residential developers.  

National principles have also been developed to guide state and territories on sport and recreation, covering elite and professional sport, community sporting competitions and individual activity. 

The PM also confirmed that Federal Parliament would meet on 12,13, and 14 May to deal with ordinary business. 

Bank support for businesses eligible for JobKeeper 

ANZ, NAB, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank have agreed to prioritise applications from businesses needing funding to bridge the gap until they receive their first JobKeeper payments next month. 

The commitment follows discussions between the Treasurer, ATO Commissioner and major bank CEOs to discuss expediting bank support for businesses eligible for the JobKeeper program. 

The banks have agreed to set up their own special hotlines to manage applications from businesses and JobKeeper-related applications will be brought to the front of the queue through a stepped-up assessment process. 

 A copy of the Australian Banking Association’s statement is available here



Thursday 23 April 2020 - 4:44pm

COVID PLANNING UPDATE
  • Message from the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes
  • Update from Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Roundtable
  • NSW Government announces $20 million for public spaces in Sydney’s Inner West

Message from the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes

We received an updated message from the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes about planning to enable economic recovery. The text of that message is below:

Recent events have renewed a sense of urgency and purpose in the critical role of our planning system. That’s why we are fast tracking assessments of shovel-ready projects to boost jobs and help the State’s economic recovery. At all times, and particularly in the face of global uncertainty, promoting sustainable economic growth and job generation is the bread and butter of the planning system. In the two weeks from 30 March to 12 April alone, our Department approved 28 projects that delivered more than $642 million in economic benefit to the State and enabled an additional 4,681 jobs.

 Recognising the vital role that planning systems will continue to play in the country’s economic recovery, a Communique released yesterday by Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge on behalf of State Planning Ministers and the Australian Local Government Association, agrees the principles to follow when adjusting planning systems to support jobs and the economy during COVID-19.

Separately, last week I announced a broad-reaching review of the current developer contributions system led by Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat, as well as $70 million for new community infrastructure in areas most impacted by the upcoming conclusion to the Local Infrastructure Grants Scheme, immediate fixes to the current contributions system, and plans to support councils to spend money already in their accounts on infrastructure.

We’re also making it possible for local Development Applications and planning processes to continue throughout the pandemic, with regulation changes now requiring Councils to notify planning processes or applications on websites rather than in local newspapers.

 For more information on any of these updates, see here – Communique from Planning MinistersImproving the infrastructure contributions systemCouncil Notification Regulation Change.

Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Weekly Roundtable Update

An overview from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Weekly Roundtable is provided below:

  • DPIE advised that changes to the legislation (under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act and Local Government Act) have been made to remove requirements for advertising in local newspapers and allow for online notifications. The subject changes have been communicated to councils.
  • Potential orders concerning issues relating to construction materials, and extension of time for lapsing of development consents and deferred commencement are being investigated by DPIE.
  • DPIE has developed criteria to identify ‘priority projects’ in the planning system that can be fast-tracked. Priority projects can be State Significant Developments, Planning Proposals and Regionally Significant Developments that will drive the economic recovery. The criteria and first tranche of projects will be announced shortly. 
  • Kirstie Allen from DPIE spoke about the work that she and Alison Frame are progressing on the next tranche of policy work to support investment.

DPIE asked for feedback from the Group on whether there are other issues (beyond planning system) in the housing market that are preventing supply from being delivered – to help identify building material and resource supply chain issues, financing presale commitments, jobs and skills.

 

ACTION: Feedback is sought for submission to DPIE. Members’ feedback can be provided here.

  • The Minister for Local Government has also announced amendments to temporarily modify the Local Government Act 1993 in response to COVID-19. More advice has been made available on the OLG website.

Amendments include:

  • Allowing councils to delay sending out the first quarterly rates notice for 2020-21 and extend the payment deadline by one month;
  • Enabling councils to immediately waive or reduce fees for services such as food premise inspections and footpath usage for COVID-19 affected businesses, without the need to provide 28 days public notice;
  • Providing councils with a one-month extension to adopt their 2020-21 operational plans and budgets and submit their 2019-20 audited financial statements and annual reports. Councils will also have an extra month to submit their last quarterly budget review statement for 2019-20; and
  • Removing the requirement for documents to be made available for inspection at council offices, if the document is published on the council’s website or available electronically.

The Roundtable members raised the following matters:

    • Concern was raised that councils may defer their strategic work (eg. housing strategies) until the COVID crisis is over, and that this deferral will impact adversely on housing supply. In the case of one Council, letters have been sent to proponents advising them that the housing strategy may be delayed due to COVID.

    RESPONSE: DPIE has been advised that the Council in question is preparing a communication strategy to engage with the community digitally. They are waiting for the planning proposal to go through gateway and will then exhibit this online together with the housing strategy.

     

    ACTION: DPIE and OLG to discuss the Council in question’s housing strategy deferral and pursue highlighting their obligations to meet statutory deadlines. DPIE will also seek advice on how other councils are progressing housing strategies.

    • Suggested that to help bring projects forward, changes must be made so that the development contributions are payable at occupation certificate stage instead of upfront.

    RESPONSE: DPIE will consider this suggestion.

    • Questioned the legal means by which the Minister can approve projects directly including step-in powers.

    RESPONSE: The Minister already has a range of existing intervention powers under the EP&A Act, including calling-in of certain matters, stepping-in as consent authority, consent roles in planning instruments and exercising delegations.

    • Requested that consideration be given to increasing the time for appeal against refusal or conditions of consent from 6 months to possibly 12 months.

    RESPONSE: DPIE will include the time for appeals on DA determinations in the matters it considers for possible future changes.

    • Requested further information on the Accelerated Infrastructure Fund (AIF) and its relationship to LIGS, highlighted further concerns held on the uncapping of contributions and infrastructure funding.

    RESPONSE: AIF’s priority is funding infrastructure to unblock development approvals, which means quick selection, funding and construction.  AIF will also where possible remove items from local contributions plans – putting downward pressure on local contributions. DPIE continues to work closely with NSW Treasury in development contributions reform work and takes on concerns about the current infrastructure contributions system.


    ACTION: DPIE to provide a future update on the AIF to clarify the full investment.

     


    Tuesday 21 April 2020 - 3:19pm

    On Wednesday last week we providedmembers with the opportunity to meet with Minister for Planning and PublicSpaces, Rob Stokes.

    It will come as no surprise that ontop of the agenda was planning reform progress and how planning can supporteconomic recovery during and after the health crisis period.

    The Minister spoke aboutGovernment’s plan to reform developer levies and contributions that wasannounced earlier this week and we have shared this information in an earlieradvocacy alert that can also be viewed here.

    In addition, the Minister spoke toother critical issues for Property Council members and emphasised thegovernment’s commitment to working with the industry as well as expeditingreform that will enable timely economic development, sustainability andemployment.

    Property Council members askedquestions about:

    The fast tracking of ‘shovel’ready projects

    The Minister said:

    Industry is a key lever to keep theeconomy moving. There are three streams of work tosupport industry and the community:
    Ministerial orders that override normal planning rules to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the community during COVID-19. The extension of construction hours (with caveats) is one of six orders to date. Fast tracking assessments of State Significant Development (SSD), rezonings and DAs currently in the system. A team in the Department will work to fast track those projects that have capacity to stimulate the economy but are experiencing bottlenecks in the system. The criteria for projects to be fast-tracked will be ready next week.
    Planning reform, including a pathway forward for contributions which includes a mix of immediate changes that are open for consultation and a review by Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat.


    When will the 'One stop shop' be operational?

    Members will recall the PropertyCouncil’s advocacy that the State Government should create a one stop shop tocoordinate the work of multiple referral agencies. The mandate of the one stopshop should be to actively facilitate development outcomes in a timely andefficient manner. You can read the full report on this issue prepared by theResidential Development Committee here.

     The Minister said:

     The Minister recommitted to a NSWversion of the successful Queensland State Agency Referral Agency, with fivestaff to be in the ‘One Stop Shop’ from next week.

    The Property Council is currentlyseeking the implementation plan from the Department.

     

    What is the role of theGreater Sydney Commission (GSC) now?

    The Minister said:

    The role of the GSC has changed andover the months ahead it will continue to evolve under the new leadership ofGeoff Roberts.

     

    Is there scope to reconsiderthe prohibition on rezoning industrial lands?

    The Minister said:

    This policy needs to have a focuson job creation and encourage greater flexibility in employment landuses.  Build-to-rent also potentially provides some opportunity forflexibility given the single owner model that it provides.

    The Property Council will take thismatter up separately with both the GSC and the Department. 

     

    How do we make sure money incouncil bank accounts is being spent and Councils have what they need torespond to planning applications?

    The Minister said:

    The State Government is supportingcouncils and planning panels and wants to assist councils where possible, toget the best outcome for the community under their fit for future obligations.
    One of the contributionsinitiatives already announced will see councils asked to publish leviescollected and spent to provide greater transparency.  He was open tosuggestions about how to unlock funds to offset development contributions giventhere is more than $2 billion sitting in accounts across the State.

    The Property Council will take upthis issue with the Department and the Productivity Commissioner.

     

    What role does residentialhave in the recovery phase?

    The Minister said:

     Whatever happens, we need to keepdelivering increased supply to meet the targets identified by the GSC.
     There is opportunity to assess howLandcom might play a role here. The missing middle code will come into effectin July, providing local jobs for local tradies. There is also huge opportunitywith ‘build-to-rent’ with many benefits particularly if there is a downturn inthe build to sell market.

     The Minister concluded byindicating that the implementation of a number of the matters he referred towill occur by August.

     The Property Council willcontinue to work with the Minister, his office and the Department throughoutthis implementation




    Friday 17 April 2020 - 06:04pm

    NSW WEEK IN REVIEW

    Update on $750 million SmallBusiness Support Fund

    The NSW Government announced todaythat over 2500 small businesses have already been approved for grants of up to$10,000 as part of the Small Business Support Fund. The Treasurer DominicPerrottet announced “This is about providing cash quickly to eligible smallbusinesses when they are struggling. These grants could help your local cafe,corner shop or gym during this very difficult time". Find out more here. 

    Residential TenanciesAmendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020

    Government today released theResidential Tenancies Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 aimed at providingprotection under a six-month moratorium period to tenants facing financialhardship due to COVID-19. The object of this Regulation is to generallyprohibit, in the 6 months after the commencement of the regulation, a landlord(under a residential tenancy agreement other than a social housing tenancyagreement) from giving a tenant who is a member of a household financially impactedby the COVID-19 pandemic a termination notice for non-payment of rent orcharges, or  applying to NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)under the ResidentialTenancies Act 2010 for a termination order relating to atermination notice given to an impacted tenant for non-payment of rent orcharges. Find out more here.

    Local Government (General)Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020

    The NSW Government has today made aseries of regulatory changes to ensure council resources continue to be focusedon responding to COVID19 impacts and allow councils to provide financial reliefto businesses and residents. 

    Minister for Local Government,Shelley Hancock said the changes acknowledge the vital role councils areplaying in supporting and protecting local communities during COVID19.

    Importantly the changes provideratepayers with more time to pay their rates notices and allows councils toprovide financial support to businesses suffering from reduced cashflows orforced closure by waiving or reducing fees.

    The changes providecouncils with the flexibility to adjust to rapidly shifting circumstances andalso address processes such as publishing of documents and notices. Find moreinformation here.



    Wednesday 15 April 2020 - 05:16pm

    COVID-19 UPDATE

    • Update on travelling to and from work
    • Economic stimulus to boost jobs and social housing
    • Licence fees for trades and construction slashed
    • IPART’s Review of Home Building Compensation Fund

    Update on travelling to and from work

    Over the past week, members have reported several instances of staff being stopped by law enforcement on their way to work especially in the CBD of Sydney and having been told their work is not considered ‘essential’. We understand that in many cases these staff were facility managers or required to be on site to manage building operations necessary for the continuity of tenant businesses, e.g. keeping IT server rooms operational with appropriate cooling, managing security and cleaning within the building.

    We took the matter up with the Premier’s Office and the Office of the Minister for Police. The Minister’s Chief of Staff has assured us that a very clear message from the Commissioner of Police was disseminated through the Police Operations Centre regarding property industry staff and contractors attending work.

    We have also been assured that if any person is issued with a fine, the Commissioner would (as a last resort) reverse it as he personally reviews each penalty notice issued.

    We have advised the Minister’s Chief of Staff that not only are we grateful for the quick feedback we received but that we are also, as an industry, incredibly mindful of the difficult job our frontline police are being asked to perform as this crisis unfolds. It must be incredibly challenging for the average officer on the beat to exercise his or her discretion well in these the most challenging of times.

    So, with all of that in mind, if members are aware of any individuals, scenarios or issues that you would like investigated or reviewed please forward them to us at the Property Council and we will follow up on your behalf.

    Economic stimulus to boost jobs and social housing

    Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey has today announced an economic stimulus program aimed at boosting jobs and social housing.

    The $60.5 million program will deliver public housing upgrades and new supply, including 50 per cent in regional NSW and includes pausing plans to redevelop the ageing Arncliffe Estate in Sydney’s South, to provide emergency accommodation that is safe and habitable for new tenants.

    A similar stimulus works program costing $13.5m is being undertaken through the Aboriginal Housing Office with a focus on improving living conditions and reducing cost of living pressures for Aboriginal tenants in regional and remote NSW.

    View the Minister’s release here.


    Licence fees for trades and construction slashed

    The Berejiklian Government today announced that it will scrap $50m of licence fees for nearly 200,000 licence holders across the trade and construction sector.

    As the Premier said today these fee waivers will deliver much-needed relief for small businesses, at a time when cash flow is crucial. Fees will be waived for 12 months.

    Today’s announcement follows the waivers already in place on liquor licences and certain SafeWork NSW and NSW Fair Trading fees and charges.

    Further information can be found here.


    IPART’s Review of Home Building Compensation Fund

    Yesterday IPART released an issues paper concerning its review of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF). The HBCF is more widely known as Home Warranty Insurance.

    The paper discusses potential impediments to private insurers and alternative indemnity providers entering the market and further explains how the HBCF could deliver a reduction in building defects and insolvency.

    IPART is seeking comments from stakeholders up until 1 June 2020. IPART will then release a draft report and recommendations in September 2020.

    The paper can be found here.


    Monday 13 April 2020 - 1:19pm

    NSW GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS ON TENANCIES

    • NSW Government announces implementation of commercial tenancy code
    • Details to be finalised and included in a Regulation under NSW legislation
    • $440 million land tax relief to be split between residential and commercial
    • Small Business Commissioner to provide dispute resolution service
    • Residential tenancies package also announced

      Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, has today announced that NSW will implement the Code of Conduct announced by National Cabinet last week for SME commercial tenancies for the COVID-19 period.

      The Code sets out good faith leasing principles to guide discussions between commercial landlords and tenants who are significantly affected by COVID-19 crisis. It will apply to tenants who are JobKeeper participants and have a turnover of less than $50 million. Owners are free to make other arrangements with tenants not covered by the Code based on agreement between the parties.

      The Code will prohibit evictions for non-payment of rent for these SME tenants and will last for 6 months. The Treasurer made it clear in his media comments that it is critical that tenants who can keep paying rent do so. There is no scope under today’s announcement for tenants to terminate leases at will.

      The details of how these National Code’s definitions as well as the principles announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be implemented in NSW will now be determined and included in a Regulation under NSW legislation. The legislation under which this Regulation will be made is yet to be determined. The Code will apply to retail, industrial and general commercial leases.

      The Treasurer has also advised that the proportionality principle outlined in the National Code – where landlords will need to offer tenants rent relief proportionate to the tenant’s decline in turnover – will be implemented in NSW for these SME tenants. The National Code also included a statement that a rent waiver should make up at least 50 per cent of any rent relief. The details of how this will be implemented in NSW are yet to be finalised. 

      Under the Code, landlords must not terminate the lease for non-payment of rent or draw on a tenant’s security. Similarly, tenants must honour their lease.

      Land tax relief

      The announcement today includes $440 million in rent relief through land tax waivers of rebates to be split evenly between residential and commercial landlords. 

      Landlords will be eligible for a land tax waiver or rebate if they pass the saving on to tenants in financial distress.

      Eligible landlords will be able to apply for a land tax concession of up to 25 per cent of their 2020 (calendar year) land tax liability on relevant properties. A further land tax deferral for any outstanding amounts for a three-month period will also be offered to landlords who claim the land tax concession.

      Small Business Commissioner to supply dispute resolution

      The Office of the Small Business Commissioner (OSBC) will receive a $10 million boost and extra staff to provide a dispute resolution service. Currently, the OSBC has jurisdiction in relation to retail leases and provides services in relation to some commercial lease disputes, at the smaller end of the market. 

      The Property Council will provide advice to the NSW Government about the measures that will be necessary for the OSBC to adequately fulfil the envisaged role.

      Property Council response

      As the Property Council advised last week, the National Code exceeds the commitments the Property Council Board believed were appropriate for commercial landlords to make in what must always be case-by-case tenant negotiations based on the sustainable capacity of both parties.

      Urgent discussions will be sought with the NSW Government about how several important safeguards might be implemented including:

      • Ensuring any good faith agreements already put in place by landlords and tenants are respected and not disturbed when the Code is finally implemented.
      • Exempting small owners from the Code where its application would create financial hardship.
      • Achieving clarity regarding the leases to which the plan will and will not apply and ensuring that leases expiring in the ordinary course of events are not overridden by the NSW plan.
      • Ensuring the plan does not extend to leases that are not the subject of the Code especially with regard to evictions.
      • Clarifying that the proportionality principle should not be inflexibly applied and should be considered on a case-by-case basis and is subject to variation.
      • Clarifying that regard will be had to a landlord’s ability to provide additional waivers (above 50 percent) will mean that landlords who cannot do so will be protected in any dispute resolution process.
      • Making it clear that for the application of any proportionality principle that all government income support for tenants is taken into account along with relief being given on federal, state and local taxes, fees and charges.
      • Ensuring that tenants who were either in arrears prior to the COVID-19 crisis, insolvent or not complying with other agreed lease terms do not receive the protection of the Code in accordance with Principle 2 of the Code.
      • Ensuring longer lease terms that are common in the commercial and industrial sectors do not result in an unreasonable loss to be borne by the landlord by imposing a maximum rather than minimum repayment term.
      • Drafting the repayment provisions to ensure a reasonable outcome for both landlords and tenants once the COVID-19 crisis is over which could be achieved by agreement reached between a tenant and landlord.
      • Providing some flexibility around bank guarantees and other securities where it is favourable to a tenant to do so or where there are other breaches of the lease unrelated to non-payment of rent.
      • Recognising that for industrial and commercial leases a unilateral right to extend a lease might not be workable where there is, for example, a binding agreement with a third party negotiated well ahead of time.
      • Ensuring the Code only lasts for the period of the COVIC-19 crisis.
      • Clarifying that rent freezes are only for the period of the COVID-19 crisis and not beyond.
      • Ensuring that the dispute resolution service proposed has the resources and capacity (including specialist skills) to fairly resolve disputes beyond retail leases.

        Financial institutions must support property companies with regard to their debt covenants. The Commonwealth has agreed to write to domestic and foreign banks operating in Australia stating that National Cabinet will require that support.

        We also recognise that many larger members also have offshore bond arrangements which will fall outside of this arrangement. We will continue to work with the Commonwealth on the many unintended consequences of the Code.

        Residential tenancy package also announced

        A further $220 million will be made available to support landlords and tenants in residential tenancies in NSW.

        The package will apply where residential tenants have lost 25 per cent of their income and will also prohibit evictions for rental arrears for 60 days. It will also last for 6 months. Land tax support will be funded with the $220 million.

        The plan will include an obligation to negotiate an agreement before the landlord can seek a forced end to the tenancy. The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal will protect tenants from eviction until negotiations have concluded.

        Unpaid rent will accrue as arrears.



        Thursday 9 April 2020 - 03:22pm

        PLANNING REFORM UPDATE

        • Update from Department ofPlanning, Industry and Environment Weekly Roundtable

        The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) Weekly Roundtable was held yesterday to update on the response to COVID-19 and progress to date, with the following updates:

        • An overview was provided of new orders that are being initiated in Government in response to Covid-19. These included:
          • a new order for Part 5 and State Significant Infrastructure developments om relation to construction on the weekends and public holidays, and
          • a new order to allow pop-up distribution places e.g. carparks of shopping centres.
        • Examination is currently being undertaken on the need for orders or legislative changes about:
          • varying the operating hours of waste being delivered to facilities, commensurate with changes to construction hours as requested by Waste Removal Industry and Cement, Concrete Aggregates Australia,
          • changes to address advertising/consultation issues considering some local newspapers are closing their operations.
        • DPIE is currently working on identifying projects that are ‘shovel ready’ for potential acceleration and developing an appropriate Governance structure to identify these.
        • DPIE is also developing criteria to determine priority projects and will divert resources to focus on these projects. The focus is on the projects already in the system and finding ways to fast track them. The criteria based on three key principles was provided to the group for feedback - creating jobs (creation/retention for the short and long term), timing (projects can commence and be completed quickly) and public benefit (e.g. housing, infrastructure, projects that will assist in the bushfire recovery effort).
        • DPIE recognises there needs to be a strong governance framework to support this process. A probity adviser will be brought in to review the criteria for identification and implementation. Further, the criteria will be checked by ICAC to ensure it is robust.
        • Once developed, the governance structure will determine how we prioritise and what measures are appropriate to fast track development. For example, it will look at how we address process roadblocks (e.g. other approvals and how to expedite them).
        • An update was provided on the $70 million Priority Infrastructure Fund (PIF) announced by the Minister last week. It was noted that councils have been very cooperative in putting forward projects.

        Peak bodies raised the following issues:

        • Timing of development of the criteria for prioritising projects and its commencement.

        RESPONSE - DPIE advised that it will develop criteria within the next week, but also highlighted the importance of a robust governance framework to manage the process.

        • Resourcing is a matter for consideration for priority projects

        RESPONSE - DPIE is reaching out to industry to bolster skills and resources, but resourcing is not the only issue. DPIE is looking at the barriers and solutions, including the design review process, policy issues, ways to speed processes up etc. We are looking at what we can do within the currently policy framework and policy change long term.

        • What are the criteria for the Minister stepping in and what would this mean?

        RESPONSE- DPIE is focusing on the criteria for priority projects, the mechanism for commencing these projects will be considered.

        • What is going to make developers start construction and will it be funded by the government?

        RESPONSE - DPIE advised that it will determine which projects can commence quickly according to agreed criteria. 

        • Focus should be on achieving an over-supply of approvals and not just shovel ready projects.

        RESPONSE - DPIE agrees that greater emphasis is needed on getting projects underway. DPIE will focus on projects can commerce quickly.       

        • Peak bodies raised the importance of the public domain. They also emphasised the importance of social and affordable housing noting that after COVID there may be many low-income workers.

        RESPONSE - DPIE indicated that public value, green space and affordable housing will be all central considerations in any policy formulation.

        • Peak bodies raised the need to consider deferring contribution/other payments and/or allowing payments in instalments. It was highlighted that contribution requirements dampen the market and that deferring contributions and upfront payments was supported by the group.

        RESPONSE - DPIE acknowledged the importance of providing clarity in this regard.

        • What is DPIE is doing about different councils’ capacities and resources?

        RESPONSE – The Department is working closely with Councils and LGNSW on the challenges being faced

        • Peak bodies advised that industry representative and employees are being stopped by the police when they are on their way to work. This is an issue for many people in the industry – consultants, councils, planning panels and needs to be addressed

        RESPONSE - DPIE to follow up with other Departments on this issue and pursue a whole of Government solution.

        • Peak bodies requested communication to members of the group on progress of the Planning System Acceleration Program, one-stop-shop and priority projects.

        RESPONSE – DPIE will provide relevant material, and answers to questions from individual members of this group, to all peak bodies within the group when required. DPIE confirmed that communications material has been prepared for councils and is available on OLG website. This includes FAQs and an Engagement Guide.


        Tuesday 7 April 2020 - 7:43pm

        COMMERCIAL TENANCY CODE OF CONDUCT

        • National Cabinet announces mandatory commercial tenancy code
        • Code sets formula for SME rent relief
        • Banks to be required to support real estate debt covenants
        • Lease terminations taken off the table
        • No details on tax support, eyes on states and territories

          National Cabinet has today settled the detail of a mandatory code of conduct for SME commercial tenancies for the COVID-19 period.

          The Code sets out good faith leasing principles to guide discussions between commercial landlords and tenants who are significantly affected by COVID-19 crisis. It will apply to tenants who are JobKeeper participants and have a turnover of less than $50 million.

          Most significantly, the Code requires owners to provide rental relief to qualifying tenants by the same proportion as the loss of revenue experience by the tenant.

          Half of this rent relief must be given in the form of a rent waiver, while the other half can be deferral of rent spread over the life of the lease and not less than 24 months.

          Under the Code, landlords must not terminate the lease or draw on a tenant’s security. Similarly, tenants must honour their lease.

          The Code is to be introduced through legislation or regulation by state and territory governments. A copy of the Code is attached to the statement issued by National Cabinet and is available here.

          Industry code discussions

          The Property Council has been engaging intensely with governments around the country on these issues over the past fortnight.

          At the request of the Federal Government, we had substantially advanced the drafting of an industry Code of Conduct covering commercial and industrial property.

          The Code announced today is not that Code and goes substantially beyond the commitments the Property Council Board believed were appropriate for commercial landlords to make in such tenant negotiations.

          The Government Code also fails to incorporate several important safeguards that we will continue to take up with state and territory governments who now have carriage of implementing the Code.

          These include exemptions for small owners from the Code and the need to recognise arrangements that have already been put in place with tenants.

          Other announcements

          Pleasingly, the National Cabinet has removed ‘Principle 4’ from the leasing principles announced by the Prime Minister which on 3 April. This principle would have allowed tenants to terminate leases effectively at will.

          National Cabinet accepted the industry’s strongly expressed representations that to allow tenants to terminate leases en masse ran the real risk of crashing commercial property markets and damaging Australia’s financial stability.

          The Federal Government has also accepted that financial institutions will need to support property companies with regard to their debt covenants. It will write to domestic and foreign banks operating in Australia stating that National Cabinet will require that support.

          We recognise that many larger members also have offshore bond arrangements which will fall outside of this arrangement.

          Tax relief

          The announcement today makes no mention of any land tax or other relief so important for both commercial landlords and tenants.

          However we understand that state governments are intending to move swiftly with land tax support packages in coming days and weeks, with similar arrangements for the ACT and Northern Territory.

          The Property Council will continue to work with governments on these issues and the Federal tax measures we have recommended.

          The Property Council media release on the Code is available here.


          Tuesday 7 April 2020 - 05:09pm

          COVID-19 UPDATE

          • Major Infrastructure Pipeline released for NSW
          • Payroll tax measures take effect in NSW from today
          • NSW Government announces $100M to support health workers
          • Update on Homeless Outreach during COVID-19 crisis and ATO announces special arrangements for working from home

          NSW Major Infrastructure Pipeline

          Simon Draper, CEO of Infrastructure NSW, has today advised that Infrastructure NSW has been working on an updated NSW Major Projects Infrastructure Pipeline, which is now available. According to Simon, the pipeline set outs the task for government and private industry in NSW for the next six to 12 months and provides information on projects in planning phase.

          This update is part of the NSW Government Action Plan to promote a transparent pipeline of projects, and also deliver upon Infrastructure NSW’s function to release a State Infrastructure Plan.

          The objective in restating the Government’s commitment to invest in infrastructure is to support confidence, industry sustainability, employment continuity and mobilisation of construction teams across the state.

          The pipeline covers projects worth $50 million or more. The updated version has three lists:

          • the “NSW Major Projects Infrastructure Pipeline” provides a forward view of infrastructure under development by the NSW Government
          • the “NSW Infrastructure Planning Pipeline” provides a forward view of infrastructure in planning by the NSW Government.
          • the "Major Precinct" list shows precincts that will bring together educational institutions, major hospitals, industry leaders and startups to deliver more job opportunities across NSW.

            The pipeline is being released as a web-only version to enable more frequent updates, and to allow users to easily search for projects. More information can be found on the website.

            Payroll tax measures takeeffect from today

            As has been reported in previousProperty Council Member Alerts the NSW Government has deferred payroll taxpayments for all businesses for six months in response to the COVID-19pandemic.

            Today the latest monthly payrolltax payments for businesses are due, but thanks to emergency measuresintroduced by the NSW Government these can now be deferred.

            Businesses with payrolls of $10million or less will also be eligible for a 25 per cent reduction in theirannual liabilities for 2019-20, when they complete their annual reconciliation.These measures will save businesses in NSW around $450 million dollars.

            These moves are a welcomerecognition by the NSW Government that businesses need cash flow in this verychallenging time.

            In addition, the payroll taxthreshold will be increased to $1 million on 1 July 2020.

            The Government has also announced a$750 million Small Business Support Fund. This fund will provide small businessgrants of up to $10,000.

            $100M Support for Health Workers

            The NSW Government has today announced that healthcare workers will be provided with free accommodation as part of a $100 million package in extra measures to support frontline staff. $60 million of these funds will be provided to doctors, nurses, paramedics and other hospital staff to give them the option of staying in out-of-home accommodation during the COVID-19 crisis to protect loved ones.

            The package will also support medical research and vaccine trials to beat COVID-19 as well as commercialise research products and boost domestic supply chains. The package also includes $10 million to work with NSW engineering, electrical and manufacturing businesses to urgently undertake pilot projects to produce ventilators and other critical medical equipment.

            Key elements of the support package include:

            • $58 million for health worker accommodation
            • $25 million for medical research and vaccine trials
            • $11 million for commercialisation of research products
            • $10 million Funding to partner with industry to boost domestic supply chains.

            Outreach ramps up to protecthomeless

            NSW Minister for Families,Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward has said today that 100homelessness assertive outreach patrols will be conducted in Sydney in the nextfortnight to ensure our vulnerable citizens have a roof over their head.

            Minister Ward said “the goal is tohave people currently sleeping on our streets moved into accommodation to helpkeep them safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Assertive outreach patrolsinclude housing staff, specialist caseworkers and health professionals.”

            This follows last week’sannouncement of $34 million to boost temporary accommodation and private rentalassistance packages, an extra 300 hotel and motel rooms have also been bookedto house people who are homeless.

            The Government has also establisheda new Inner-City Homelessness Taskforce to coordinate the response whichincludes the Department of Communities and Justice, NSW Health, St Vincent’sHealth, Neami National, the City of Sydney and NSW Police.

            ATO Announcement: New workingfrom home shortcut

            The Australian Tax Office (ATO) hasannounced special arrangements this year due to COVID-19 to make it easier forpeople to claim deductions for working from home. The new arrangement willenable people to claim a rate of 80 cents per hour for all their runningexpenses, rather needing to calculate costs for specific running expenses.

            Multiple people living in the samehouse can claim this new rate, and it does not prohibit people from making aworking from home claim under existing arrangements where you calculate all orpart of your running expenses.

            Claims for working from homeexpenses prior to 1 March 2020 cannot be calculated using the shortcut methodand must use the pre-existing working from home approach and requirements. TheATO will review special arrangements for next financial year as the COVID-19situation progresses.



            Monday 6 April  2020 - 05:45pm

            COVID-19 UPDATE - WEEKEND SUMMARY

            • DPIE briefing held today with NSW Planning Committee
            • Retirement Living Council Briefing to be held on 7 April
            • Commissioner Shane Fitzsimons appointed to lead new NSW Resilience Agency
            • Dr Paul Grimes appointed to Head of Environment, Energy and Science

            DPIE Briefing with NSW Planning Committee

            Today the Property Council’s NSW Planning Committee held a meeting with the Department of Planning, industry and Environment (DPIE). The meeting provided yet another opportunity for members of the Property Council to be updated on how the Department is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and progress to date.

            Key discussion points from the meeting included:

            • DPIE is currently collating and considering a long list of “shovel-ready” projects submitted by the Property Council. Job creation will be an important factor in the development of the assessment criteria as part of this process.
            • A key focus for DPIE is continuing the assessment of State-significant development applications and reviewing planning proposals.  
            • Another important focus is the role of local government in providing certain planning functions including assessing development applications and keeping local environmental plans up to date. A priority for DPIE is looking at the capacity of local councils to provide these services and potential changes to policies to support local government.
            • As Sydney councils have finalised their local strategic planning statements, DPIE will be responsible for endorsing local housing strategies that are developed to fulfil requirements of the regional plan. The draft strategies for housing, employment lands and strategic centres will be reviewed by a new unit within the development team to ensure consistency of these strategies across Greater Sydney.
            • The Department’s infrastructure coordination team is reviewing many of the draft Special Infrastructure Contributions (SIC) to identify potential infrastructure that could form part of the Government’s economic stimulus.  Rates of SIC and the forward program of SIC areas are under review. More detail of this work will be sought at the next meeting between the Planning Committee and the DPIE.  

              RLC Event Registration Reminder

              The Retirement Living Council is holding a session on Government COVID-19 business support for retirement village operators and has arranged experts on retirement community business and tax issues to provide a briefing.

              The briefing will detail the Commonwealth and State government support being provided by the COVID-19 pandemic and how this impacts retirement village operators.

              The teleconference connection details are to be provided upon registration. The event is being hosted 7 April 2020 2:00PM - 3:00PM AEST.

              You can register here and if you have questions please email the RLC.


              RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons to lead new Resilience NSW agency

              NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announced the creation of a new NSW Government agency, ‘Resilience NSW’ which will drive disaster preparedness and recovery approaches for NSW and will be led by Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.

              This announcement follows the Commissioner’s retirement from the RFS after many years of service, and from 1 May 2020, will become the first Commissioner for Resilience NSW.

              The agency will be formed to prevent, prepare and recover from crisis which impact NSW. It will oversee and coordinate emergency management policy, service delivery and all aspects of disaster recovery at a state, national and international level.

              Commissioner Fitzsimmons said today he was honoured to have the opportunity and serve the people of NSW in the new role and that “there was never a more important time to make sure that communities devastated by drought, bushfires and now COVID-19 are getting the help they need to rebuild and recover.”

              Dr Paul Grimes appointed to Head of Environment, Energy and Science

              The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has today announced the appointment of Dr Paul Grimes to the role of Coordinator General Environment, Energy and Science from today Monday 6 April 2020.

              NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean has said “Dr Grimes will provide strong leadership in the environment space with his long-standing experience in environment and sustainability policy. Having worked in a number of senior roles across all tiers of government, Paul brings the right experience for this important work.”

              He has previously served for many years in the Commonwealth Government as Secretary of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, as well as Associate Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Deputy Secretary in the Department of Finance.

              The Energy and Environment portfolio and DPIE Environment, Energy and Science Group include several key responsibilities:

              • Energy, Climate Change & Sustainability
              • National Parks & Wildlife Service
              • Biodiversity & Conservation
              • Policy, Strategy & Science.


                Friday 3 April 2020 - 07:35pm

                PLANNING SYSTEM ACCELERATION PROGRAM ANNOUNCED

                The Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes has today announced that NSW will introduce a ‘Planning System Acceleration Program’ to cut red tape and fast track planning processes to stimulate the NSW economy. You will have seen our earlier alert on this today –here is a link to submit ‘shovel ready’ projects.

                Please send your suggestions to nswadvocacy@propertycouncil.com.au

                $750 MILLION SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT FUND

                The NSW Government today announced a $750 million Small Business Support Fund as part of the next stage of stimulus measures to support small business, with $10,000 grants to be available. The new fund is largely based on the scheme that was rolled out during the NSW bushfires.

                To be eligible, businesses will need to:

                • Have between 1-19 employees and a turnover of more than $75,000;
                • A payroll below the NSW Government 2019-20 payroll tax threshold of $900,000;
                • Have an Australian Business Number as at 1 March 2020, be based in NSW and employ staff as at 1 March 2020;
                • Be highly impacted by the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 issued on 30 March 2020;
                • Use the funding for unavoidable business costs such as utilities, overheads, legal costs and financial advice;
                • Provide appropriate documentation upon application.

                Applications for a small business grants of up to $10,000 will be available through Service NSW within a fortnight and remain open until 1 June 2020.


                Friday 3 April 2020 - 05:33pm

                COMMERCIAL TENANCY CODE OF CONDUCT

                • National Cabinet calls for commercial tenancy code of conduct 
                • Mandatory code to be legislated by state and territory governments 
                • Proportionality principles to apply to tenancy relief 

                The National Cabinet considered commercial tenancy issues at its meeting today. 

                It has called for industry to complete the development of a code of conduct for commercial tenancy which will be mandatory and legislated by state and territory governments. 

                • The Prime Minister noted that National Cabinet will consider the issues again at its next meeting on Tuesday. Work continues with state and territory governments on residential tenancy issues.
                • The PM noted that some work had already been done towards this by industry groups (which includes the Property Council) but National Cabinet wasn’t satisfied it provided sufficient security for tenants and landlords affected by these arrangements.
                • The PM highlighted a proportionality principle where the that the turnover reduction of the tenant needs to be reflected in the rental waiver provided by the landlord. How that is done, inside the lease, is up to the landlord and the tenant.

                The Code will be mandatory for tenancies with a turnover less than $50 million which and are participating in the Commonwealth Government’s Job Keeper program. (Eligibility for the JobKeeper program requires a turnover reduction of more than 30 per cent.) Lease terminations would not be permitted for businesses operating within the code framework, however this protection would not apply outside of the code.

                Tenants whose business turnover has been unaffected by business turnover or not participating in the JobKeeper program would not be covered by this arrangement.

                • The PM said governments did not want to be prescriptive about arrangements but expected landlords and tenants to sort these issues out through good faith negotiation.
                • He noted the readiness of governments to address issues related to land tax and other costs incurred by commercial property owners, and that banks also had a role to play in supporting tenancy relief.

                The Property Council has been extensively engaged with all levels of government over recent days on tenancy issues. We will continue working very closely with government, our members and industry peers in coming days towards a commercially satisfactory and sustainable resolution.  

                • Our media statement in response to the National Cabinet decision is available here
                • A copy of the Prime Minister’s statement is available here.


                Friday 3 April 2020 - 02:09pm

                PLANNING SYSTEM ACCELERATION PROGRAM ANNOUNCED

                • Minister announces ‘Planning System Acceleration Program’
                • Aim is to cut red tape and fast track planning processes to stimulate the NSW economy
                • A ‘one stop shop’ will be established to progress projects stuck in the planning system

                The Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes has today announced that NSW will introduce a ‘Planning System Acceleration Program’ to cut red tape and fast track planning processes to stimulate the NSW economy.

                The Minister’s announcement comes at a critical time for the 400,000 people employed in the property industry across NSW.

                Property Council members know that the NSW planning system is the slowest, least efficient in the country.  That is why we so strongly welcomed the Premier’s commitment, at the end of last year, to make planning reform a 2020 priority.

                Clearly the bushfires and the pandemic have meant that necessarily the Premier’s focus has been on dealing with these crises.  That is why today’s announcement – that acknowledges the critical role the planning system will need to play in helping NSW recover once the health crisis is over – is critical in that regard.

                Put bluntly, NSW has never needed a better, faster, more outcome focussed planning system more than it does today.

                The Minister’s announcement contains several key elements:

                • Create opportunities for more than 30,000 construction jobs in the next six months.

                  Both the Minister, and the Department, have stressed today that keeping and creating jobs is a key objective.  Today we have asked the Department to ensure that a means is put in place to track how we are travelling against the Minister’s stated aim.  As members know, the Property Council has been working with Treasury and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to put forward ‘shovel ready’ projects which are ‘stuck’ in the planning system right now or could be shovel ready very soon.

                  The Department is currently working on criteria against which projects can be assessed and the Property Council will be contributing to that task over the next week.

                  • Introduce a ‘one stop shop’ for industry to progress projects that may be ‘stuck in the system’.

                  The Property Council has long advocated for the need for NSW to adopt an approach to ensure that projects that are stuck within the planning system are unstuck as quickly as possible. Our understanding is that the new one stop shop will be modelled on the successful Queensland State Agency Referral Agency (SARA) which is a good model to adopt. We have today asked the Department for a timetable for establishment and advice about who will lead the new unit.  We have also made clear that it will be very important that the One Stop Shop has the powers it needs to get the job done.

                  • Fast-track assessments of State Significant Developments, re-zonings and development applications (DAs), with more decisions to be made by the Minister if required.

                  These commitments are welcome, especially the commitment from the Minister to get involved, where required. The Department has today also assured the Property Council that internal processes are being reviewed and resources redeployed to the ‘front line’.  

                  • Support councils and planning panels to fast-track local and regionally significant DAs.

                  Clearly this is key – right now and over the months ahead.  We know the Department has been reaching out to councils along with the Office of Local Government to make sure councils can keep going with the very important business-as-usual of planning and assessment.  We too have been reaching out to our local government members to offer support in this regard.  We have also put to the Minister, the Department and councils that should business-as-usual be in jeopardy, alternate arrangements will need to be found.

                  • Clear the current backlog of cases stuck in the Land & Environment Court with additional Acting Commissioners.

                  This is a welcome commitment and complements the announcements made by the Chief Justice earlier this week. 

                  • Invest $70 million to co-fund vital new community infrastructure in North West Sydney including roads, drainage and public parks to unlock plans for the construction of thousands of new houses.

                  As members know, the Property Council has strongly advocated about both the need for an extension of the LIGs scheme as well as broader contributions reform.  The Department confirmed today that this announcement is unrelated to the broader consideration of contributions reform the Premier foreshadowed in her announcement at the end of last year.  More details have been sought from the Department.

                  On behalf of you, our members, we will redouble our efforts in ensuring that today’s announcements deliver on the promises made.

                  HOW CAN YOU ASSIST?

                  Feedback from members on the above commitments and suggestions about what other priority changes might be made is sought.

                  You can put forward your suggestions to members of the team:

                  If you have projects that are “shovel ready” please submit them using this template.


                  Thursday 2 April 2020 - 12:13pm

                  NEW MINISTERIAL ORDERS

                  • New Ministerial Order to keep construction open longer
                  • A message from Simon Draper, CEO Infrastructure NSW
                  • NSW Planning Update from DPIE on COVID-19 Response 
                  • Update from NSW Police Commissioner and on manufacturing of medical supplies 

                  The following Ministerial Order was published today in relation to construction sites:? 

                  • Construction sites are now permitted to operate on weekends and public holidays to support the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.  
                  • This is to keep construction projects progressing by allowing building work to be spread across more days of the week while abiding by social distancing rules.  
                  • This will continue until the COVID-19 pandemic is over, or the advice of NSW Health changes.

                  An additional order was also published in relation to food trucks and ‘dark kitchens’:

                  • This permits food trucks and dark kitchens also known as virtual kitchens or ghost kitchens to set up and operate, and cook meals solely for delivery, rather than eat-in diners.? This is to support the food and beverage industry, which has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

                  More information on these orders is available here. 

                  A message from Simon Draper, CEO Infrastructure NSW

                  Complementing the Minister for Planning’s announcement today, the Property Council today received the following message from Simon Draper (this is an edited version): 

                  “This week the NSW Government introduced a new public health order on movement and gatherings. These are clearly very serious restrictions for a very serious public health situation. 

                  The restrictions do not prevent people working or travelling to construction sites. Nor do they stop construction projects. The new public health order contains a list of essential gatherings that are exempt, and construction sites are specifically included in that list. With that comes a responsibility for us all to implement good health practices on sites, and demonstrate that we have done so to employees, to communities neighbouring our jobs, to the public and to Government.  

                  Infrastructure NSW is now convening a smaller working group between Government and industry to coordinate and monitor health practices in our industry, to be chaired by Louise Howard from Sydney Metro. 

                  By necessity, the new restrictions have a compliance aspect. The New South Wales Police are the appropriate agency to enforce any laws or restrictions. This is often a difficult task as they try their best to balance the most appropriate action. 

                  Deputy Commissioner of Police, Gary Worboys, has confirmed to me that Police would much prefer the construction industry to manage its own compliance using reasonably practicable steps to ensure physical distance and hygiene, rather than have police attend or enter work sites. Police will not be seeking to manage health practices on construction sites or other workplaces. However, if they receive complaints about poor practice or observe it directly while on patrol, they will respond, talk with workers and take whatever action they deem suitable. 

                  Construction sites are exempt for their normal operational needs, but employees from the construction industry are not immune from the virus or exempt from the new laws if they in public places and not engaged in work on a construction site. We all need to make sure that is understood at an industry level, and a site level, and that good practices are enforced. 

                  Fortunately, we are in a strong position to implement compliant health practices. Access to sites is strictly controlled. We know everybody who works on our construction sites and can communicate with them directly and regularly. We have strong culture and systems for managing health and safety risks. So, there is every reason to believe that our industry can continue to operate in a manner consistent with the public health objectives that Government has in place.  

                  From the discussions I’ve been involved in, everybody is up for the task and determined to make it work. We’re very grateful for that. As Deputy Commissioner Worboys said to me, “let’s make the construction industry the benchmark for others when it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus.” 

                  NSW PLANNING UPDATE FROM DPIE

                  Following the second weekly meeting with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) yesterday, further information has been provided by the Department regarding responses to some of the issues raised. 

                  DPIE has been in regular and active consultation with development, retail and industry peak bodies, as well as with Councils and LGNSW. DPIE are currently compiling a comprehensive, living list of issues and recommendations put forward by stakeholders and working to prioritise actions. 

                  Issues raised, and the DPIE responses are below: 

                  • ISSUE: The planning system is essential to maintain a healthy development pipeline in the immediate and longer term. There is a need to address ongoing planning issues including streamlining assessment processes and resolving blockages in the system.  
                  • RESPONSE: DPIE is working on broader planning reform issues as well as working to address issues arising from COVID19. 
                  • ISSUE: To maintain the development pipeline, application process times should be reduced, whilst maintaining the appropriate planning considerations.  
                  • RESPONSE: The Governments around the country are working to find an appropriate balance between streamlining assessment processes and maintaining a level of consideration in line with planning principles. 
                  • ISSUE: DPIE should take a centralised role in providing planning services within NSW and assist Councils to continue providing services. 
                  • RESPONSE: DPIE is working closely with the Office of Local Government to give councils guidance on their requirements and to give regular updates on legislative changes.  
                  • ISSUE: It is important to fast track both social housing and affordable housing for key workers. 
                  • RESPONSE: DPIE are exploring options and criteria to fast track social housing projects.
                  • DPIE will work with industry to develop a set of guiding principles to assist with the prioritisation of work streams.   

                  We will continue working closely with DPIE and have provided specific recommendations from an operation, policy and financial point of view. We will continue to keep members updated as the situation progresses.? 

                  Update from NSW Police Commissioner

                  The state's new social distancing laws, which ban gatherings of more than two people and prevent people from leaving the house without a "reasonable excuse", will be over by the end of June, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told reporters at a media conference with Premier Berejiklian this morning. 

                  Mr Fuller said the laws would be in place for 90 days and he would not be seeking an extension to the sweeping new powers after that time. The laws came into force on Tuesday, which means they will last until June 29. 

                  Further information can be found here .

                  Call for Manufacturing Businesses to Supply Medical Supplies

                  The NSW Government is calling on manufacturers around the state to help fill the gaps in the global supply of medical equipment and hygiene products, with a portal being launched for companies to offer to build parts or supply eight urgently needed items to assist with COVID19. 

                  Local alcohol makers are already converting to produce items such as hand sanitiser, while other firms have switched to face masks, providing much needed equipment while keeping their businesses going. 

                  With the supply of Personal Protective Equipment and disinfectant expected to be constrained for at least 12 months, further opportunities exist for other NSW companies to join and diversify their supply in order to provide solutions to provide hospitals and community members the protection they need. 

                  Businesses can register their interest through the portal here.


                  Monday 30 March 2020 - 05:44pm

                  JOBKEEPER WAGE SUBSIDY

                  • Government commits $130 billion to subsidise wages for up to 6 million workers 
                  • Payment of $1500 per fortnight for staff in businesses impacted by coronavirus
                  • Payments to flow in May backdated to 1 March

                    The Government has unveiled an historic wage subsidy program to help employees and businesses most severely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and keep them connected for the recovery period. 

                    Under the ‘Jobkeeper’ payment, employers will receive a flat rate of $1500 per employee including full time, part time, and casual employees and sole traders. 

                    All businesses will be eligible for the scheme, subject to the impact of the coronavirus on their turnover.  

                    Eligiblebusinesses will need to have experienced a 30 per cent reduction in turnoversince the coronavirus outbreak, or a 50 per cent reduction for businesses withturnover of more than $1 billion.

                    The fortnightlypayment represents around 70 per cent of the median wage, but is closer to 100per cent of the median wage for those employed in the sectors hardest hit bycoronavirus, including retail, hospitality and tourism.

                    Eligibleemployees are those who were employed by the business on 1 March. Even if theyhave been subsequently retrenched, an employer can re-engage them and receivethe wage subsidy payment.

                    The scheme willbe delivered through the ATO.  Employers can register their interest in the scheme here.

                    Announcing the scheme today, the Prime Minister and Treasurer noted it was bigger and broader than comparable schemes overseas. 

                    The scheme was designed to ensure employees stay connected with business so that they are able to ‘bounce back’ on the other side of the current crisis period. 

                    Parliament will be recalled to pass legislation to enable the scheme. 


                    Monday 30 March 2020 - 03:58pm

                    COVID-19 UPDATE-  WEEKEND SUMMARY

                    • Further restrictions announced by Prime Minister last night
                    • National cabinet agrees principles for commercial tenancy relief
                    • Minister for Planning and Public Spaces updates industry

                    National Cabinet – 29 March 2020 

                    National Cabinet agreed to limit both indoor and outdoor gatherings to two persons only.

                    Exceptions to this limit include:

                    • People of the same household going out together;
                    • Funerals - a maximum of 10 people;
                    • Wedding - a maximum of 5 people;
                    • Family units.

                      National Cabinet’s strong advice is for self-isolation at home to the maximum extent practicable for Australians:

                      • over 70 years of age;
                      • over 60 years of age who have existing health conditions or comorbidities.
                      • indigenous Australians over the age of 50 who have existing health conditions or comorbidities.

                        Tenancies and Leases

                        Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions have been encouraged to sit down together to find a way through to ensure that businesses can survive and be there on the other side.

                        The Property Council NSW team are currently engaging with the NSW Government on what this might mean in our State.

                        A six-month moratorium for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress has been agreed, a move supported by the Property Council. 

                        As part of this, National Cabinet agreed to a common set of principles, endorsed by Treasurers, to underpin and govern intervention to aid commercial tenancies as follows:

                        • a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus;
                        • tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease;
                        • the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants;
                        • the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress;
                        • commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus;
                        • landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and
                        • cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance.

                          Message from NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister

                          Minister of Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes sent Property Council representatives on Friday last week – the message is reproduced below.

                          “As we move through the COVID-19 crisis, every one of us has a vital role to play. Whether it’s abiding by self-isolation and social distancing rules, working on the front line in our hospitals and schools, or – as will be the case for the property and construction industry – keeping people in jobs and supporting the State’s economy.

                          Providing that the health advice continues to allow for it, your industries will be critical to creating jobs, unlocking housing supply and driving investment during these unprecedented times.

                          I now have the power to issue Ministerial Orders that override normal planning system processes to ensure the health, wellbeing and safety of our community.

                          This week, I have used those powers to cut red tape for supermarkets, pharmacies and home-based businesses to facilitate more flexibility with their operations.

                          Next week, I will have more to say on how we are fast-tracking shovel-ready projects that are in the system to keep hundreds of thousands of workers in jobs.

                          Stay safe and know the NSW Government is behind you as we get through this together.”

                          NSW Council elections havebeen postponed 

                          • NSW Council elections have beenpostponed for 12 months to September 2021. Councillors and Mayors have beenasked to serve and additional year to provide more stability and continuity.

                          Parliamentary oversightestablished into the NSW Government’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic

                          • The NSW Parliament's Upper HousePublic Accountability Committee has established an ongoing inquiry to oversightthe Government's management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
                          • The inquiry will be ongoingin order to follow developments as they unfold, with the first public hearingscheduled for 10.00 am on Friday 3 April 2020. It is anticipated that hearingswill be broadcast via the NSW Parliament website.


                          Monday 30 March 2020 - 11:15am

                          LOAN RELIEF MEASURES FOR COMMERCIAL LANDLORDS

                          • Australian banks offer business loan deferrals for coronavirus-impacted businesses
                          • Commercial landlords required to provide undertakings on leases
                          • New FIRB thresholds

                          Australia’s banks are extending the six month deferral of loans to business customers with loan facilities of up to $10 million (up from the previous $3 million small business threshold). Facilities above $10 million will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

                          During the deferral period, banks will also agree not to enforce business loans for non-financial breaches of the loan contract (such as valuation changes).

                          Commercial property landlords who are access the deferral scheme will need to provide an undertaking they will not terminate leases or evict current tenants for rent arrears as a result of coronavirus impacts.

                          Customers will need to be current in terms of existing facilities 90 days prior to applying for deferral. Interest will be capitalised, meaning the term of the loan will be extended or payments are increased after the deferral period.

                          The Australian Banking Association says this measure will cover 90 per cent of commercial property owners who have loans with an Australian bank.

                          This measure is announced subject to authorisation from the ACCC.

                          The Property Council has welcomed this measure for the support it offers commercial landlords in helping their tenants during this period.

                          However, we will need to more closely examine the extent of the benefit including for those members who source finance from other lenders or offshore.

                          • Click here to read a copy of the ABA announcement

                          Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) thresholds revised

                          The Treasurer has announced temporary changes to the FIRB rules, applicable for all foreign investments from 10.30pm last night.

                          All investments will now require FIRB approval, regardless of the value or the nature of the foreign investor ($0 monetary threshold).

                          Screening periods will be extended from 30 days to up to six months. Priority will be given to urgent applications that directly protect and support Australian businesses and jobs.

                          The measures are described as temporary, and will remain in place for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.  The changes are not specific to real estate and apply to all proposed investments. 


                          Sunday 29 March 2020 - 11:10am

                          COMMERCIAL TENANCIES PRINCIPLES

                          • National cabinet agrees principles for commercial tenancy relief 
                          • PM calls on landlords, banks and business to work on solutions 
                          • Tenants to be allowed to terminate leases on financial hardship grounds 

                          The National Cabinet has agreed on principles for commercial tenancy relief for businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. 

                          As part of its business hibernation plan, the National Cabinet agreed that short-term intervention was needed for commercial tenancies. While it has agreed to a number of principles, more detailed work needs to be done by states and territories on their implementation. 

                          A six-month moratorium for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress has been agreed, a move supported by the Property Council. 

                          The National Cabinet wants these discussions to be informed by the following principles: 

                          • a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus;
                          • tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease;
                          • the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants;
                          • the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress;
                          • commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus; 
                          • landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and
                          • cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance.

                          The principle of terminating leases on financial hardship grounds raises serious concerns which will need to be addressed in much more detail with federal, state and territory governments. We have flagged our concerns with governments tonight. 

                          We have flagged our early concerns with the Federal Treasurers office and will pursue them as a matter of priority with state and territory Treasurers who have been given carriage for this work. 

                          The PM focused on the need for commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions to sit down and work out solutions to ensure the sustainability of businesses through the current crisis. This is a very sensible message and the Property Council knows that members are engaging with numerous such conversations in good faith. 

                          The financial sector also has a crucial role to play in these arrangements and the Government’s recognition of this is important and welcome. 

                          More detail on assistance from the banking sector is expected imminently and as early as tomorrow morning.   

                          National Cabinet will meet again on Monday 30th March 2020.  A copy of today's statement from the Prime Minister is available here.



                          Friday 27 March 2020 - 5:36pm

                          COVID-19 STAGE TWO STIMULUS PACKAGE HAS BEEN RELEASED BY NSW GOVERNMENT

                          The Treasurer released the second NSW Government stimulus package today.  
                          It includes:

                            • the creation of a $1 billion Working for NSW fund to sustain business, create new jobs and retain employees.
                            • deferral of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls over $10 million for six months. Businesses with payrolls of $10 million or less received a three-month waiver on payroll tax in the first package.
                            • deferral of gaming tax for clubs, pubs and hotels, and lotteries tax for six months.
                            • deferral of the parking space levy for six months.
                            • deferral of rents for six months for commercial tenants with less than 20 employees in Government owned 

                          LATEST UPDATED FROM NATIONAL CABINET

                          The Prime Minister today announced:

                            • all travellers arriving in Australia will be required to undertake their mandatory 14 day self-isolation at designated facilities (for example, a hotel).
                            • The Australian Defence Force will begin assisting state and territory governments to undertake quarantine compliance checks

                            NSW INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS CONTINUE AT THIS STAGE

                            Further advice has been received from the NSW Government over the past two days on the continued operation of NSW Government infrastructure projects.

                            Simon Draper, CEO of Infrastructure NSW has underlined the importance of supporting the NSW economy and continuing to pursue and deliver the NSW infrastructure program with as little disruption as practicable. This must be done at the same that we must control the infection rate of the virus.

                            He has outlined some key principles that will guide the NSW Government’s approach for projects and businesses affected by the virus or related control measures:

                            1. Contractors are encouraged to talk to their NSW Government agency clients as soon as possible to allow a cooperative approach to mitigation. Conversely, agencies should reach out to contractors.
                            2. Each project will be managed on a case by case basis to address the particular circumstances, and each will require information the causes behind potential delays, and solutions tailored to the circumstances.
                            3. Government clients will work cooperatively with contractors to seek solutions that maximise the chance of achieving good project outcomes for client, contractor, subcontractors, employees and suppliers.
                            4. For projects in delivery, Government clients recognise that COVID-19 may introduce delivery risks that could not have been foreseen, mitigated or priced at the time contracts were executed (noting the commercial arrangements vary).
                            5. For projects not yet contracted, Government clients will consider industry feedback and an approach that recognises the risks created by COVID-19 over the upcoming period.
                            6. As a matter of reciprocity, contractors will be expected to:
                              • seek Government flexibility and cooperation only for matters related to COVID-19, and not for pre-existing project performance issues or unrelated delays
                              • propose changes only to the extent required to mitigate the effects of COVID-19
                              • mitigate delays and costs, demonstrate flexibility in doing so, and promptly provide information on anticipated delays and strategies
                              • protect and utilise insurance arrangements that can mitigate impacts
                              • act cooperatively with other contractors on the project
                              • treat subcontractors, consultants and suppliers in a similar manner, and reflect changes in arrangements in those contracts.

                            7. Discussions and problem solving should occur between client agencies (project teams) and contractor project teams , with escalation according to usual mechanisms.


                            Friday 27 March 2020 - 04:52pm

                            BUSINESS HIBERNATION PLAN PROPOSED

                            • Government to develop a ‘business hibernation’ package
                            • Package will include tenancy arrangements – “everyone will take some pain”
                            • Compulsory quarantine arrangements for returning international travellers
                              The Prime Minister hasforeshadowed the announcement of a ‘ business hibernation’ package in the thirdtranche of the Federal Government’s economic response to the coronavirus crisisin coming days.

                              Following the latest National Cabinet meeting today, the PM emphasised theimportance of helping all businesses make it through the crisis so they couldbe part of the recovery.

                              A critical part of this objective would be enabling businesses that have beenforced to close due to the economic crisis to be protected and supportedthrough the public health response period.

                              The PM said it would be an innovative approach to maintain as much of theeconomy as possible.

                              While the detail is still to be resolved, the PM foreshadowed a package to dealwith commercial and residential tenancies but noted this would require acontribution from landlords, business and governments.

                              Land tax relief wasmentioned so is clearly on the agenda for governments to address.

                              It is expected the package will be announced in the next few days followingfurther consultation with state and territory governments.

                              Our teams are engaging immediately with federal, state and territorygovernments to better understand the scope of this proposal and its detailwhich is still under discussion.

                              Our objective remains that a broad base of tenants are able to benefit from the‘business hibernation’ plan and that commercial property owners are providedwith land tax relief which can be passed through to their tenants. We are alsoadvocating in support of keeping construction going during this period givenits economic significance and the importance of minimising disruption tocurrent and planned projects.

                              We also support the PrimeMinister’s statement on the importance of all parties, including landlords andtenants, working cooperatively to achieve our shared interest in ensuringbusinesses are in place and positioned to recover in future.
                              Stepped-up quarantine forreturning travellers

                              The Commonwealth, state and territory governments are imposing more stringentcompulsory quarantine measures for travellers returning from overseas.
                              This will include the use of special quarantine hotels or facilities tomaintain closer supervision over returned travellers to ensure they isolate for14 days.

                              The Australian Defence Force will provide support to state and territory lawenforcement agencies in ensuring that returned travellers are abiding by theirself-isolation commitments. The stricterquarantining measure reflects that the majority of COVID-19 cases in Australiato date have been linked to overseas travellers or those in contact with them.



                              Thursday 26 March 2020 - 10:59am

                              NEW MINISTERIAL ORDERS FIRST ACTION UNDER COVID-19 LAWS

                              Yesterday, the Covid-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 commenced.

                                • 24-hour trading allowed for retail businesses
                                • Greater flexibility introduced for home businesses

                                This included amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to allow the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces to make Ministerial orders to override the Act and any other planning instruments to approve development or make broad changes to existing consents.

                                The Minister can do this as long as he is reasonably satisfied the order will protect the health, safety and welfare of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The last of these is obviously the most broad.

                                Under the first Order of this Act introduced yesterday – with immediate effect:

                                  • retail premises (except those that sell liquor) will have the flexibility to operate any time (24 hours a day) as they see fit,
                                  • waste disposal will be able to be conducted at any time.

                                  This will provide the community more flexible access to supermarkets, pharmacies and corner-stores and the essential goods they sell at varied times of day. It will also provide business the flexibility to service the community as required.

                                  The second order provides greater flexibility for those operating home-based businesses.

                                  Certain start-ups and home-based businesses will grow during this period and this order ensures the planning rules are flexible enough to allow this. Under this order:

                                    • greater flexibility will be provided for home-based businesses by allowing them to work extended hours to any time despite their existing consent,
                                    • it will also increase the number of people that can work at a home-based business from two to five, providing these businesses can abide by the Public Health Order and social distancing rules.

                                    Through close consultation with the Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment and the wider NSW Government, the Property Council will continue to put forward practical, sensible solutions to support both our industry and the community during this time.


                                    Wednesday 25 March 2020 - 06:28pm

                                      • The Property Council today attended the first Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) COVID-19 round table with other industry bodies
                                      • The current work of the Department in responding to the health emergency was discussed
                                      • Future work to support the NSW economy was also canvassed

                                      The Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment today held a meeting with industry peak bodies to discuss the current measures required to ensure business continuity for some sectors providing essential services.

                                      A future work program around the stimulus measures required to support the NSW economy was also discussed.

                                      DPIE is working on two fronts:

                                        • the public health response, and
                                        • in relation to the role the planning system contributes to facilitating economic activity.

                                        An overview was provided of the Government response to Covid-19 including a summary of the legislative changes which have been temporarily adopted in Parliament, including the Emergency Measures Bill.

                                        The Bill, to commence today, incorporates the following:

                                          • It allows the Planning Minister to make orders to enable certain developments to take place after consultation with the Minister for Health
                                          • Removes requirements to have a place provided and a physical copy of relevant documents on public exhibition for inspection so long as exhibition copies are made available electronically

                                          The meeting also covered the new SEPP released last Friday to support important supply chains. State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (COVID-19 Response) 2020 makes clear that truck deliveries are able to supply shops and retailers with essential goods at all times to support communities.

                                          A number of other suggestions were discussed including:

                                            • DPIE working closely at all levels with Councils to emphasise the economic importance of progressing development applications and proposals.
                                            • Exploring changes to operating/construction hours because sites have adopted distancing guidelines for employees which may affect the number on any given worksite.
                                            • Examining ways to fast track / make procurement more simplified and timely

                                            Further input will be needed from industry on key stimulus measures and the Department will work closely with industry to design and implement these measures.


                                            Wednesday 25 March 2020 - 02:06pm

                                              • Amendments provide new powers to The NSW Government to make regulations relating to retail and residential tenancies. Full extent is still to be determined
                                              • The Bill has now passed and is awaiting assent
                                              • The Amendments allow regulations to be made under relevant Acts at a future time

                                              Last night in the NSW Legislative Council, amendments were brought forward by the Greens party to the Emergency Measures Legislation that passed through the Legislative Assembly earlier in the day.

                                              The amendments grant the NSW Government the power to make regulations under the relevant pieces of legislation (relating to both residential and retail tenancies in NSW) to:

                                                • prohibit the repossession of a premises,
                                                • termination of a lease or the exercise of another right that the landlord of the land has under a lease, and
                                                • where such regulations are needed to protect the health, safety and welfare of the tenants under the relevant Act.

                                                The amendments also provide the opportunity to make regulations to grant tenants exemptions from complying with the operation of a provision of an Act or agreement relating to the lease or licence of land.

                                                The regulation making power for residential tenancies covers the following pieces of legislation:

                                                (a) Boarding Houses Act 2012,
                                                (b) Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013,
                                                (c) Residential Tenancies Act 2010,
                                                (d) any other Act relating to the leasing of premises or land for residential purposes.

                                                For retail, the regulation making power covers:

                                                (a) Agricultural Tenancies Act 1990,
                                                (b) Retail Leases Act 1994,
                                                (c) any other Act relating to the leasing of premises or land for commercial purposes.

                                                The Minister can only make new regulations if:

                                                  • the NSW Parliament is not currently sitting and is not likely to sit within 2 weeks after the day the regulations are made, and
                                                  • in the Minister's opinion, the regulations are reasonable to protect the health, safety and welfare of lessees or tenants under the Act.

                                                  In addition, regulations made pursuant to these changes will not be limited by the regulation-making power in a relevant Act.

                                                  Any regulations made will expire 6 months after the day on which the regulation commences.

                                                  What this means and what happens next

                                                  The Property Council is currently seeking advice on what commercial, retirement or land lease leases may be impacted should the NSW Government make regulations using these new powers. 

                                                  It is clear, from the lists above, that there may be new regulations for ‘standard’ residential and retail leases and leases under the other nominated Acts.  We will endeavour to discover any more ‘hidden’ impacts or leases.

                                                  The National Cabinet is meeting tonight to consider leases following work being undertaken by Western Australia and New South Wales.

                                                  It is expected the Cabinet will make decisions that will flow through and end up in new regulations in NSW.

                                                  The powers are very broad and could have a dramatic operation of residential and retail leases in NSW.


                                                  Tuesday 24 March 2020 - 10:33pm

                                                  NEW RESTRICTIONS ON SOCIAL GATHERINGS

                                                    • Further restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings
                                                    • ‘Stay at home’ unless necessary
                                                    • Tenancy and lease issues to be considered Wednesday night

                                                    Further restrictions on indoor and outdoor social gatherings have been announced tonight following the latest meeting of the National Cabinet.

                                                    A decision on measures related to tenancy and lease issues has been deferred until the next meeting of the National Cabinet on Wednesday evening.

                                                    Noting that NSW and Victoria were more advanced than other states and territories in terms of the number of coronavirus cases, the Prime Minister reaffirmed that states and territories remained committed to ensuring consistency in the application of the social gathering rules.

                                                    Further to restrictions already announced (including those related to cafes, restaurants and hotels etc), a range of indoor and outdoor activities have been proscribed. State and territory governments will take necessary action to enforce these requirements.

                                                    Of note, the new restrictions now include food courts in shopping centres although take-away purchases are still allowed.

                                                    The PM emphasised shopping centres would remain open subject to observing the social distancing requirements (1 person every 4 square metres).

                                                    Real estate auctions and open house inspections are to be stopped, while various personal services activities delivered in premises should also cease (such tanning, waxing and nail salons). Health-related services may continue.

                                                    Outdoor gatherings are to be avoided, with strict limits on attendances at weddings (5 persons) and funerals (10 persons). The PM also cautioned against large family gatherings at home.

                                                    Schools will remain open under the current arrangements.

                                                    There is a total ban on overseas travel other than for limited essential reasons.


                                                    Tuesday 24 March 2020 - 02:57pm

                                                    LEGISLATION INTRODUCED TO NSW PARLIAMENT

                                                    The NSW Parliament has started debating legislation to put in place emergency measures for the COVID-19 crisis.

                                                      • Two pieces of legislation have been introduced to NSW Parliament today
                                                      • The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 has been introduced by Andrew Constance, Minister for Transport
                                                      • The Treasury Legislation Amendment (COVID-19) Bill 2020 has also been introduced by the Treasurer

                                                      There will be two separate bills introduced, one to deal with emergency measures and one to deal with budget measures.

                                                      The “emergency measures” bill has passed the Legislative Assembly. Key matters include:

                                                        • Amendments to the Environmental and Planning Act to enable the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces to make an order that authorises development to be carried out without the need for approval under the Act or consent from any person
                                                        • The Minister must be satisfied that the making of the order is necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of members of the public
                                                        • Ensure that documents do not need to be made available at a physical location if it is available on the NSW Planning portal
                                                        • These provisions apply for a minimum of 6 months, extendable up to 12 months
                                                        • Enable the deferment of council elections if the Local Government Minister believes it is reasonable to do so. The delay is for a maximum of 12 months
                                                        • Allows “virtual” council meetings via audio visual link or other approved manner

                                                        Other than matters relating to planning and land use, it deals with:

                                                          • Changes required in the criminal justice system in relation to criminal trials, juries, pre-trial procedures, apprehended violence orders, bail and sentencing
                                                          • Extends working with children checks that would otherwise expire
                                                          • Prohibit visitors to detention centres or correctional centres if need be to protect the health of detainees and inmates
                                                          • To grant parole to additional classes of inmates if reasonably necessary
                                                          • A range of changes in relation to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal
                                                          • Ensure laws can be made even if they are not presented to the Governor in person
                                                          • To convert interim apprehended violence orders into final apprehended violence orders
                                                          • To make alternative arrangements for signing and witnessing documents
                                                          • Changes to provisions relating to the storage and distribution of vaccines and medicines and other changes to the regulation of private health facilities
                                                          • Modifications to Mental Health Review Tribunal procedures
                                                          • Creates a specific power of arrest is there are reasonable grounds that a police officer believes a person is contravening a public health order
                                                          • Allows supermarkets to trade on days where it is otherwise prohibited (such as Anzac Day)
                                                          • Extends the operation of Regulations that would otherwise expire
                                                          • Makes changes in relation to the payment of workers compensation

                                                          The “budget measures” bill has also passed the Legislative Assembly. It includes:

                                                            • A freeing up of long service leave provisions allowing it to be accessed before it would otherwise become available
                                                            • Changes to payroll tax including a temporary reduction for businesses with annual wages of $10 million or less

                                                            Both bills will now move to the Legislative Council.


                                                            Monday 23 March 2020 - 03:37pm

                                                            MESSAGE FROM THE NSW TREASURER

                                                              • NSW Treasurer has advised the Property Council about continuity of construction projects
                                                              • NSW Government determined to deliver the NSW infrastructure pipeline and has confidence in the health and safety culture in the industry
                                                              • Infrastructure NSW says continuity on projects will be best served by codifying and upholding rigorous practices for on-site for distancing, hygiene, safe travel and early identification of any potential infection

                                                              NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet MP has today written to the Property Council to assure that the government will work with the property industry to sustain our state and nation during this difficult time. Treasurer Perrottet notes that the industry’s continued contribution will be vital as we rise to meet the challenges ahead. A copy of the Treasurer’s letter is here.

                                                              The Chief Executive of Infrastructure NSW, Simon Draper, has also advised that Infrastructure NSW and Government agencies charged with delivering the infrastructure program have been in discussions about how we work cooperatively with the property and construction industries to maintain cash flow, employment and delivery on our projects. 

                                                              Infrastructure NSW are taking a proactive approach to engagement.  They are organising calls with industry leaders during this week to discuss their general approach. They have further advised that any contractor experiencing difficulties on a project should pick up the phone to their client agency as soon as possible. The Property Council will take part in those discussions.

                                                              The NSW Government today announced closure of places where people gather, such as pubs, restaurants, gyms and cinemas. Today’s advice therefore does not impact construction projects. Clearly, Governments will make decisions based on the latest health advice, and we should expect that there will be updates and new measures over coming days and weeks. If further steps are considered necessary, Infrastructure NSW has advised they will update us on what that means for infrastructure projects and the construction industry.

                                                              Infrastructure NSW has advised they want work to continue as much as possible without disruption, consistent with the health advice. The agency suggests that continuity on projects will be best served by every contractor and project team codifying and upholding rigorous practices for on-site for distancing, hygiene, safe travel and early identification of any potential infection.


                                                              Monday 23 March 2020 - 11:59am

                                                              NEW RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE IN NSW

                                                              Following a meeting of the National Cabinet and the Prime Minister’s press conference last night, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced the restriction on some facilities from midday today. These facilities are:

                                                                • Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
                                                                • Gyms and indoor sporting venues 
                                                                • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
                                                                • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
                                                                • Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).

                                                                NSW Schools
                                                                Schools in NSW will stay open until the end of this school term, However the Premier has said this morning that those parents who are in a position to keep their children at home, should do so.

                                                                NSW Budget 
                                                                The 2020-21 NSW Budget will be deferred from June until later in the year. This aligns with the approach of other States and Territories, following a recommendation by the National Cabinet of Commonwealth, State and Territory leaders on Friday.

                                                                NSW Opposition’s Position 
                                                                The NSW Opposition has announced its support for the deferral of the budget and a cooperative approach around expediting legislation, stimulus and associated measures.

                                                                Our work with the NSW Government 
                                                                We have been working closely with the NSW Government to support the community and our industry during this crisis.

                                                                Key initiatives – have been put forward to both the Minister for Planning and Public Places and the Treasurer. These measures cover both short-term steps to stimulate the economy and provide support now, and medium-term measures to ensure construction and investment continues in NSW. We have also pressed that key reforms to both the planning system and infrastructure contributions system that have been developed should be announced and implemented as soon as is reasonably possible.

                                                                A part of the short-term stimulus measures has been putting forward key, shovel ready, construction projects that can begin in the short term and require Government facilitation or coordination.

                                                                Essential worker – preliminary advice has been provided to relevant senior NSW Government representatives. This advice has been drawn from our members and fit into two categories; those workers who would provide essential services to the community during a shutdown and those workers that would limit the damage to the economy and support the economic wellbeing of households across the State.

                                                                Commercial tenancies – The WA and NSW governments are leading the work on the development of model rules.  We are engaging with the NSW Government to provide advice on this matter.

                                                                State Government department engagement – has been undertaken to provide any assistance required, feedback on the impact on industry and assist in the response.  

                                                                Local government engagement – has been undertaken to ensure any challenges local government may be facing in the near term can be addressed to ensure business continuity. This includes the assessment of development projects needed for continued investment and local jobs.


                                                                Sunday 22 March 2020 - 10:23pm

                                                                NEW RESTRICTIONS ON SOCIAL GATHERING PLACES

                                                                  • New measures to restrict indoor social gathering from midday Monday 23 March 2020
                                                                  • Schools remain open, Victoria and ACT early holidays
                                                                  • Tenancy legislation to be considered by National Cabinet on Tuesday 24 March 2020

                                                                  Following a meeting of the National Cabinet this evening, new measures have been put in ‘principal places of social gathering’ from midday on Monday to apply across all states and territories.

                                                                  Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all state and territory leaders had agreed to the ‘Stage 1’ measures which were necessary due to the widespread failure to observe earlier guidance on social distancing. The PM said ‘stage 2’ measures were yet to be scoped. We will monitor the development of these closely.

                                                                  Social gathering places to be affected by the new restrictions from tomorrow include:

                                                                    • Registered and licensed clubs
                                                                    • Hotels and pubs licensed areas (not accommodation)
                                                                    • Entertainment venues, casinos, nightclubs
                                                                    • Restaurants and cafes (to provide take away or home delivery only)
                                                                    • Gyms and indoor sporting venues
                                                                    • Places of worship

                                                                    The Prime Minister emphasised that all other businesses, including shopping centres, could continue to operate as normal but within the established social distancing guidelines (one person per 4 square metres).

                                                                    The measures will be reviewed monthly and people should expect these to be in force for six months or more. They follow advice earlier today to avoid non-essential domestic travel, and restrictions on cross-border travel announced by various states and territories.

                                                                    The Prime Minister also foreshadowed other measures may be introduced if required on the basis of health advice to control the spread of coronavirus.

                                                                    Schools are to remain open for the remainder of term one, although parents can elect whether to keep their children in school. Schools will look at offering distance education programs and the expectation is, subject to health advice, they will re-open next term.

                                                                    The PM noted that the next meeting of the National Cabinet on Tuesday night would consider legislation on tenancies.


                                                                    Sunday 22 March 2020 - 01:57pm

                                                                    NEW CORONAVIRUS ECONOMIC RESPONSE - LOCKDOWN DECISIONS IMMINENT

                                                                      • $66 billion of new stimulus measures to help individuals and business
                                                                      • ‘Bridge to recovery’ foreshadows six months or more of disruption
                                                                      • National Cabinet to agree to lock-down measures tonight
                                                                      • Advice to avoid non-essential travel within Australia

                                                                      The Federal Government has announced an historic and sweeping package of measures to support individuals, households and businesses as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak reverberates across the Australian economy.

                                                                      With $66 billion of new individual and business support measures announced today, the coronavirus response now amounts to $189 billion, or 9.7 per cent of GDP, to date. This is more than double the size of packages announced in other countries in GDP terms. More measures may be announced in future.

                                                                      In addition to advising against non-essential travel within Australia, the Prime Minister has also foreshadowed new restrictions to enforce social distancing. 

                                                                      A meeting of the National Cabinet has been brought forward to Sunday night to discuss the framework for more focused lockdowns of localities and regions, potentially starting in NSW which has recorded the highest rate of COVID-19 cases to date.

                                                                      Media are reporting that the NSW and Victorian Governments intend to make announcements tomorrow. There is also growing pressure from some states for a wider shutdown of non-essential activities, including schools.

                                                                      The economic response covers three areas:

                                                                        • support for individuals and households;
                                                                        • support for business; and,
                                                                        • supporting the flow of credit

                                                                        Further detail on all of the measures announced to date are available in this briefing note from Treasury.

                                                                        For small to medium sized businesses, there is additional support to boost cash flow (up to $100,000) and a new loan guarantee arrangement between the Government and participating banks to cover the immediate cash flow needs of SMEs.

                                                                        It is noteworthy that the Government will allow early access to superannuation accounts for people experiencing hardship related to the coronavirus outbreak with tax-free withdrawals of up to $10,000 in this and next financial year.

                                                                        The Government is also temporarily adjusting the regulatory framework for insolvency by temporarily providing higher thresholds (to $20,000) and more time (up to six months) to respond to demands from creditors and providing temporary relief from directors’ personal insolvent trading liability.

                                                                        We will be looking closely at these and the other measures to better understand their implications for our members and industry.



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