Julie Bishop hopeful for decision on Seaward


Julie Bishop.
Julie Bishop.

“I think the families would rather receive the right outcome, rather than one that was rushed,” Ms Bishop told the Western Suburbs Weekly last Wednesday.

Ms Bishop said Assistant Defence Minister Michael McCormack was working “as quickly as possible” on a decision, and she would like it to meet the needs of defence and security, defence families and Swanbourne residents.

“The Parliament will be returning on Monday and I will be taking up with him the likely date of his decision, and I hope it will be before May, but whether it’s before Anzac Day is a matter for the Minister,” Ms Bishop said.

Opposition to Defence Housing Australia’s proposal to use half the 22ha village for 139 civilian lots prompted a review of the project by retired Lieutenant-General Mark Evans earlier this year.

Ms Bishop said she had not seen Lt-Gen Evans’ report and she would not pre-empt any recommendation from the review, including whether a protective covenant over the village was made permanent, when currently it can be lifted and reimposed for any proposal.

Associations representing former armed services members say the Department of Defence is a better provider of housing for soldiers and not the Department of Finance, which the associations believe has DHA in its sights for privatisation.

DHA is currently subject to a Department of Finance-requested Federal Police investigation into an allegedly suspect transaction.

Ms Bishop said which agency controlled DHA was a matter for Cabinet and she would not enter the debate “at this stage”, but she would take expert advice on the issue.

Australian SAS Association president Terry Nolan said it was hard to know what was gained by Canberra delaying a decision about Seaward Village’s redevelopment, and the association would not rest until an announcement was made.

Mr McCormack’s spokeswoman said an announcement would be made “in the near future”.