DHA needs more scru­tiny

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JON BAS­SETT

IT will be ar­gued for De­fence Hous­ing Aus­tralia (DHA) to be put back un­der the scru­tiny of the Federal Par­lia­men­tary Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Works af­ter a failed at­tempt to re­de­velop the SAS’ Seaward Vil­lage in Swan­bourne.

“I will ar­gue through a re­view of the Pub­lic Works Act that DHA should come back un­der the aus­pice of the com­mit­tee, and if there are any com­mer­cial in con­fi­dence mat­ters from DHA then that ev­i­dence should be dealt with in-cam­era,” com­mit­tee chair­man Se­na­tor Dean Smith told the Sub­urbs Weekly.

The 1912-es­tab­lished bi-par­ti­san com­mit­tee ex­am­ines the need and mon­i­tors spend­ing on Federal projects of more than $15 mil­lion, in­clud­ing a re­build of at least $230 mil­lion of the SAS’ Camp­bell Bar­racks ad­ja­cent to the vil­lage.

How­ever, DHA was with­drawn from the com­mit­tee’s over­sight sev­eral years ago, de­spite it be­ing a profit-ori­en­tated Govern­ment Busi­ness En­ter­prise (GBE) with projects that gen­er­ally ex­ceed the $15 mil­lion needed to send them to the com­mit­tee. Western

In March 23, a con­tentious DHA trans­ac­tion un­re­lated to Seaward caused Fi­nance Min­is­ter Mathias Cor­mann to asked the Aus­tralian Federal Po­lice to con­duct an on-go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the GBE.

Last month, com­mu­nity op­po­si­tion prompted the Govern­ment to can­cel DHA’s plans to use half of the 22ha Seaward vil­lage for civil­ian lots that would have been sold for about $100 mil­lion to­wards the $160 mil­lion-$180 mil­lion cost of 165 new sol­diers’ homes on the re­main­ing land.

A re­view of the pro­posal rec­om­mended the Govern­ment con­sider giv­ing the DHA-owned vil­lage back to the Depart­ment of De­fence to re­solve se­cu­rity is­sues, re­tain SAS sol­diers and help the re­la­tion­ship with the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

Op­po­si­tion sen­a­tors on the com­mit­tee crit­i­cised the Seaward pro­posal but Op­po­si­tion as­sis­tant de­fence spokes­woman Gai Brodt­mann would not specif­i­cally comment when asked if her party would sup­port DHA be­ing put back un­der the com­mit­tee’s um­brella.

Ms Brodt­mann said the Govern­ment had cre­ated more than a year of un­nec­es­sary stress for fam­i­lies in Seaward and it must de­clare any “on-again off-again” pri­vati­sa­tion plans for DHA.

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