Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By JON BAS­SETT

A FED­ERAL Govern­ment-com­mis­sioned re­view is un­der at­tack for a per­ceived lack of in­de­pen­dence and trans­parency as it con­sid­ers the pro­posed re­de­vel­op­ment of the SAS’s Seaward Vil­lage in Swan­bourne into pri­vate homes.

“I’ve come to the view the re­view is more a De­fence Depart­ment in­ter­nal re­view of the pro­ject, rather than a wider pub­lic re­view,” Aus­tralian SAS chair­man Terry Nolan, a for­mer SAS com­man­der, said.

Mr Nolan’s and oth­ers’ con­cerns peaked when re­view chief re­tired Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Mark Evans met with State Govern­ment plan­ners, Swan­bourne res­i­dents, SAS wives and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists two weeks ago.

Mr Nolan said it was felt the re­view was be­ing con­ducted with “un­nec­es­sary haste” and it may not an­a­lyse all the in­for­ma­tion from the pub­lic, whose op­po­si­tion was the only rea­son the pro­ject was un­der scru­tiny.

Dur­ing his five-day visit to WA un­til Jan­uary 15, Lt-Gen Evans said he may have reached a de­ci­sion the fol­low­ing week­end and would have briefed As­sis­tant Min­is­ter for De­fence Dar­ren Ch­ester last week, al­most six weeks be­fore his re­port’s Fe­bru­ary 29 dead­line.

“Some sub­mis­sions were sent at the end of his visit to pre­vent DHA from be­ing able to re­fute their con­tents in its sub­mis­sion,” Mr Nolan said.

Lt-Gen Evans has asked DHA to again cal­cu­late the cost of de­mol­ish­ing half the 22ha vil­lage for 165 pri­vate lots, which would be ex­pected to re­sult in any­thing from a $25 mil­lion loss to a $50 mil­lion profit for the Govern­ment.

How­ever, Swan­bourne Coastal Al­liance con­venor Jean-Paul Orsini said res­i­dents should write to state and fed­eral MPs ask­ing for an in­de­pen­dent cost­ing of the re­de­vel­op­ment and the al­ter­na­tive to just re­fur­bish the vil­lage’s 153 homes.

“And any hid­ing be­hind DHA, by say­ing the in­for­ma­tion wanted by the com­mu­nity is ‘com­mer­cial in con­fi­dence’, will be con­sid­ered by the res­i­dents to be an in­di­ca­tion of just how un­pre­pared the Govern­ment was to be trans­par­ent with vot­ers,” Mr Orsini said.

When meet­ing Swan­bourne res­i­dents, Lt-Gen Evans said they should “rest as­sured” that new costs for the pro­posal would be done “prop­erly”, and there would not be “any great in­put” into the re­view af­ter sub­mis­sions closed on Jan­uary 15.

Mr Ch­ester was over­seas and un­avail­able for com­ment.

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