Labor supports works scrutiny
FEDERAL Labor Party policy is to strengthen a protective covenant over the SAS’ Seaward Village by removing a $15 million limit on what can be examined by Canberra’s Federal Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works (PWC).
“What we want to see is that it does not matter what valuation on a project is placed there, it will be a requirement that any proposal have independent scrutiny to make sure it is genuinely in the best interests of defence families,” Opposition defence spokesman Steven Conroy told the Western Suburbs Weekly last week.
In April, the Government cancelled a Defence Housing Australia-proposed redevelopment of the village for civilian lots.
The Government instead approved a refurbishment favoured by community opposition led by SAS wives.
A review of the redevelopment recommended considering returning the village to Defence control.
“If the Public Works Committee has to sign off on anything, I think that’s more powerful because Defence were on board for this redevelopment, the Minister was on board, everybody signed up against these SAS families,” Sen Conroy said.
“So I’m not confident that moving it from Defence Housing’s to Defence’s remit would not solve the problem because they were in cahoots together.”
Sen Conroy said the ALP advocated a stronger covenant now because of the community’s and SAS wives’ victory, but should it not win the July 2 election, the Government should have “learnt its lesson” and support a stronger covenant.
After the refurbishment announcement, WA Liberal Senator Dean Smith advocated DHA be put back under the PWC’s examination.
Asked if the Coalition would strengthen the covenant and return DHA to the PWC, Curtin MHR Julie Bishop said the Government accepted the review’s recommendations that the covenant should remain and Seaward’s sale not be considered in the short to mid-term.
“The Deed of Covenant prevents DHA from selling or leasing any of the land to private citizens without the agreement of Defence and the Government has no plans to alter the Covenant,” Ms Bishop said.