PM change stalls SAS Seaward Village review

The banner in the sky on Saturday.
The banner in the sky on Saturday.

CURTIN MHR Julie Bishop says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s parliamentary coup to overthrow Tony Abbott stalled a review of Defence Housing Australia’s controversial proposal to demolish the SAS’s Seaward Village for profit.

“It was about to be announced just when there was a change of leadership,” Ms Bishop told the Western Suburbs Weekly last Friday.

That day, she asked Assistant Minister for Defence Darren Chester to review DHA’s redevelopment, and consider investing money from the sale of East Fremantle’s Leeuwin Barracks in Seaward.

“I think there are a number of challenges that have not been addressed by the Seaward proposal,” Ms Bishop said.

She said her meetings with villagers, residents and Cottesloe MLA Colin Barnett had highlighted issues, including the redevelopment using Swanbourne’s residential Sayer Street, the security risk, relocating military families and if private lots were the “best option” when the current village could be refurbished.

DHA proposes to flatten 153 soldiers’ homes in the 22ha village for some civilian lots within 300m of the SAS’ Campbell Barracks and build a high-density soldiers’ precinct of 165 homes using the rest of the site and part of the barracks.

Opponents say this contravenes a 1991 agreement that no civilian homes encroach on the village and that having civilians closer poses risks in a heightened national security environment.

Last Saturday, SAS supporters targeted Ms Bishop with a plane-towed banner that read “SASR needs space not DHA E$tates – Julie!?”.

Australian SAS Association chairman Terry Nolan welcomed Ms Bishop’s request for a review but said SAS families and the Swanbourne community needed certainty. Mr Nolan wanted this resolved before Christmas.