Shortfall trumps PM ‘promise’
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.
Western suburbs lifestyle and the SAS clash.