CIVILIAN HOUSING A ‘MOCKERY’
TEMPORARILY lifting protection for the SAS’s Seaward Village in Swanbourne for Defence Housing Australia (DHA) demolition to create civilian blocks is a “mockery”, a Federal Parliament inquiry was told last Thursday.
“The current arrangement that’s going to take place between DHA and Defence is that the covenant that exists will be lifted to allow saleable land, and then it will be reimposed on the military land that’s left, which makes a bit of a mockery of the existence of a covenant in the first place,” Australia SAS Association vicechairman Andrew Leahy told the Federal Public Works Committee at the Rendezvous Hotel,
The hearing into a $230 million refurbishment of the SAS’s Campbell Barracks also invited those concerned about DHA’s proposal for the 22ha, 155-home village to become about 150 civilian lots and 165 new solders’ homes.
Mr Leahy said it was hard to understand why DHA was flattening the village when it was refurbishing 85 houses at HMAS Cerberus and 154 at Puckapunyal army base, both in Victoria, and 103 homes at RAAF Tindal in the Northern Territory.
A June 4, 1991 agreement between DHA’s predecessor and the Department of Defence says while Campbell Barracks exists, DHA will not “deal with or encumber or sell any of the houses or undeveloped land into the private sector” in the village.
Brigadier Noel Beutel said there was no intention to relocate the barracks because it was an “enduring facility” and part of a current Force Structure Review for a forthcoming White Paper on Australia’s defence needs for the next 30 years.
However, Swanbourne resident Sam Vandongen said DHA’s proposal still put the barracks at risk from “inevitable” complaints about SAS training noise from the owners of any new civilian homes.
Mr Vandongen said Swanbourne residents’ support of the Department of Defence was “likely to evaporate” if the village was redeveloped, causing an “eight-fold” local traffic increase and using part of valued Melon Hill in 90-year-old adjacent Allen Park.
The 1991 covenant agreed between DHA and the Department of Defence.