SEAWARD RE­FURB ON TA­BLE

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By JON BAS­SETT

FED­ERAL Par­lia­ment’s old­est com­mit­tee will ex­am­ine the pro­posed $48.3 mil­lion re­fur­bish­ment of the SAS’s 154-house Seaward Vil­lage in Swan­bourne.

“The pro­posal to re­fur­bish De­fence Housing Aus­tralia (DHA) houses at Seaward Vil­lage has been re­ferred to the Par­lia­men­tary Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Public Works (PWC),” DHA man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Jan Ma­son said.

Res­i­dents and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists who sup­port the sol­diers and their fam­i­lies helped save the 1980s-era, 22ha vil­lage from de­mo­li­tion and re­de­vel­op­ment ear­lier this year.

In May, a gov­ern­ment re­view was told DHA main­te­nance of the homes lapsed be­fore it pro­posed to de­mol­ish the houses and use half the land for 140 lots to help pay for 165 new sol­diers’ homes in a medium-den­sity precinct on the re­main­ing land.

The po­ten­tial need for top-up fund­ing was sub­se­quently ques­tioned at PWC hear­ings, sol­diers faced pri­vate homes being 300 me­tres from their strate­gi­cally sen­si­tive Campbell Bar­racks, vil­lagers’ se­cu­rity was in ques­tion and ratepay­ers were con­cerned about loss of reveg­e­tated bush and trucks us­ing lo­cal roads for sev­eral years.

The Op­po­si­tion caused the Gov­ern­ment to an­nounce a re­view of DHA’s pro­pos­als be­fore Curtin MHR Julie Bishop an­nounced the re­fur­bish­ment in April.

Par­lia­ment can scru­ti­nise any Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment works project worth more than $15 mil­lion, but DHA was re­moved from the pro­cess in 2013.

The re­fur­bish­ment will not be kept from the PWC be­cause it is jointly funded by the De­part­ment of De­fence and while it in­cludes new kitchens, floors and laun­dries for about 40 of the homes, another 10 or 12 homes may be de­mol­ished be­cause of poor con­di­tion.

Ms Ma­son said DHA wanted to min­imise dis­rup­tion to SAS fam­i­lies and there would be “close li­ai­son”, but the re­fur­bish­ment could not start un­til the PWC gave its ap­proval.

How­ever, some vil­lagers say they have not heard from DHA since June, while oth­ers face a lack of clar­ity about when and where they will move while the re­fur­bish­ments take place.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion will con­tinue to pay close at­ten­tion to this re­fur­bish­ment for the sake of all the com­mu­nity,” Aus­tralian SAS As­so­ci­a­tion vive-chair­man An­drew Leahy said.

The PWC public hear­ing may be held in Perth late next month.

Sub­mis­sions can be sent to pwc@aph.gov.au.

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