Short­fall trumps PM ‘prom­ise’

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JON BAS­SETT

AS­SIS­TANT De­fence Min­is­ter Stu­art Robert says he will not up­hold a “prom­ise” by John Howard po­ten­tially stop­ping the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment from sell­ing a quar­ter of Seaward Vil­lage to pay a $180 mil­lion rebuild of the en­clave for Spe­cial Air Ser­vice sol­diers and their fam­i­lies in Swan­bourne.

“No, be­cause I don’t have $180 mil­lion to de­velop the site,” he told the West­ern Sub­urbs Weekly from Queens­land.

Can­berra has raised SAS troop­ers’ ire about se­cu­rity af­ter a quar­ter of their safe beach­side vil­lage was set for auc­tion next to the elite reg­i­ment’s Camp­bell Bar­racks at an undis­closed date.

The Aus­tralian SAS As­so­ci­a­tion claims re­de­vel­op­ing the vil­lage did not make sense when the na­tion’s se­cu­rity threat was greater than in 2007 when for­mer Lib­eral prime min­is­ter John Howard promised the vil­lage would not be sold, while vis­it­ing the bar­racks.

“If an un­der­tak­ing made by a pre- vi­ous politi­cian is not go­ing to be up­held, how can we be as­sured any un­der­tak­ing from Mr Robert will be up­held, given he will even­tu­ally move on?” as­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Terry Nolan said.

Mr Nolan said in­stead of en­forc­ing the prom­ise, the as­so­ci­a­tion would pub­li­cise it at a time when the Gov­ern­ment was ac­cused of “break­ing prom­ises”.

The land sale is ex­pected to raise about $100 mil­lion to­wards pay­ing for 165 new mil­i­tary fam­ily homes and sin­gle sol­diers’ apart­ments at the bar­racks, for which Can­berra would have to chip in at least an­other $25 mil­lion, in the por­tion it re­tains.

Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment pol­icy may pri­va­tise about 20,000 De­fence Hous­ing Australia homes but Mr Robert said the Swan­bourne vil­lage would be kept for the SAS.

Mr Robert said no more Camp­bell Bar­racks land would be sold be­cause the auc­tion was only for ren­o­va­tions at the vil­lage, a se­cu­rity plan for which would be determined dur­ing an Army as­sess­ment ex­pected by the end of June.

But there would be a ded­i­cated road to civil­ian houses.

It is still not clear if a wall or fence will divide civil­ians and sol­diers.

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West­ern sub­urbs life­style and the SAS clash.

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