In brief

15 June 2010

The Federal Government has announced that round four applications for the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) will open on June 14. Apparently, this round is aimed at applications from investors wanting to build at least 20 new affordable rental homes for low and moderate income households, with priority given to applications to build 100 or more homes.

Applications for round four will be assessed as they are received. The round will close on December 14, 2010. The third round of the Scheme for large scale investment of at least 1,000 NRAS homes remains open until 31 August 2010. Apparently there are currently nine applications being assessed which would mean almost 13,000 new affordable homes across Australia. More information is here. The government’s media release can be located here.

Federal Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek and NSW Minister for Housing Frank Terenzini last week announced “a new partnership” that will invest $43 million in urban renewal and affordable housing projects across Sydney and Lake Macquarie. Funding from the Federal Government’s Housing Affordability Fund would be provided to Housing NSW, to undertake urban renewal work and deliver new affordable housing at ten sites.  More information is here.

The Threatened Species Conservation (Biodiversity Certification) Amendment Bill has been passed by Parliament, but it is not yet in effect (see our Member Alert of 26 May for more details on the bill). The Bill allows for the establishment of the Biodiversity Certification Assessment Methodology. The methodology will set out the rules that define when a biodiversity certification strategy will be deemed to “improve or maintain” biodiversity values. A draft methodology has been developed by the Department of Environment Climate Change and Water (DECCW). DECCW is accepting comments now – there is no formal “closing date” for submissions. Further information on this matter can be obtained from here.

In our Member Alerts of 15 March and 27 April we detailed changes (and some improvements) to the Aboriginal heritage protection regime that would flow from legislation before Parliament. The legislation has now passed Parliament although it is not yet in effect. The Department of Environment Climate Change and Water will host a series of information sessions on the new legislation in September. Further information on this matter is available from here.

In our Member Alert of 26 May 2010 we alerted you to the growth centres strategic assessment material currently on public exhibition. We recently had the benefit of a stakeholder information session on this matter, with presentations by the NSW Department of Planning, the NSW Department of the Environment, Climate Change and Water as well as the Commonwealth Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. The PowerPoint presentations from each of these agencies can be accessed from here (DoP)here (DECCW) and here (DEWHA).

The draft changes for the Building Code of Australia 2011 edition have been placed on exhibition. Furthermore, information handbooks for energy efficiency provisions for volumes one and two of BCA 2010 are also available. More can information can be accessed from here.

The NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) prepared a new draft regulation to replace the Threatened Species Conservation Regulation 2002. DECCW says that the proposed regulation will include “improved” criteria for listing threatened species, populations and ecological communities and will also make minor ?housekeeping? changes to the existing Regulation. DECCW will receive submissions on the proposed regulation until 2 July 2010. Further information can be obtained from here.