FOREIGN Minister and Curtin MHR Julie Bishop has asked for a Federal Government review of a controversial plan to flatten the SAS’ residential Seaward Village for private lots in Swanbourne.
“I think there are a number of challenges that have not been addressed by the proposal,” Ms Bishop told the Western Suburbs Weekly this morning.
Ms Bishop is facing opposition in her electorate – including a plane towing a written banner targeting her tomorrow – to Defence Housing Australia’s proposal to demolish 153 of the 1980s-era bungalows.
The demolition would make way for some civilian lots that would be within 300m of the elite regiment’s Campbell Barracks.
Opponents say the proposal is contrary to a 35-year-old agreement there is no encroachment on the village, which gives SAS operators a haven from the increasing number of deployments during their careers.
DHA has previously stated it wanted to put the soldiers in a 165-home high density development using the north side of the village and part of the barracks.
This morning, Ms Bishop said meetings with villagers, residents and Cottesloe MLA and WA Premier Colin Barnett had highlighted opponents’ concerns.
Those concerns include the redevelopment using Swanbourne’s Sayer Street for access, the security risk of having soldiers living next to civilians, relocating long-term military families and whether private lots were the best option when the current village could be refurbished.
“I have also spoken to Assistant Minister for Defence Darren Chester, asking he consider that the proceeds of the sale of Leeuwin Barracks in East Fremantle be reinvested into WA defence assets, including Seaward Village,” Ms Bishop said.
She said the review was needed “ASAP” and it should seek alternatives to Seaward’s redevelopment, including refurbishment of the bungalows.
The refurbishment alternative is supported by Mr Barnett.
Australian SAS Association chairman Terry Nolan said Ms Bishop’s intervention was welcomed, but SAS families and the Swanbourne community needed certainty.
He said he expected the issue should be resolved before Christmas.