FORMER SAS soldiers have welcomed Cottesloe MLA Colin Barnett’s opposition to the proposed demolition and redevelopment of the SAS’s Seaward Village in Swanbourne by Defence Housing Australia.
“We applaud the involvement of Mr Barnett, as we believe stopping the redevelopment is the only viable and logical solution for the long-term viability of Campbell Barracks, and the security of defence families,” Australian SAS Association chairman Terry Nolan said.
The association, local environmentalists and Mr Barnett want DHA to scrap its $180 million proposal to demolish the existing 153 homes and build up to 335 smaller homes, including potentially about 160 blocks for civilians.
Opponents want DHA to finish refurbishing the existing bungalows, after about a third were done before the program stopped several years ago, and the redevelopment was proposed.
Mr Barnett recently visited the village and heard residents’ concerns, including disruption to families and not knowing new civilian neighbours in a heightened national security environment.
“I believe there is better sense in continuing the refurbishment program,” Mr Barnett wrote to new Defence Minister Marise Payne.
“This will cause far less disruption to families based in the village. I also share the concerns of mixing civilian and defence personnel,” Mr Barnett said, before inviting Senator Payne to meet with him when she is next in WA.
Swanbourne Coastal Alliance spokesman Jean-Paul Orsini said Mr Barnett’s comments bolstered the environmental group’s opposition to DHA’s proposal.
Last Friday, the Government had still not announced which minister had responsibility for the DHA, after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced his first Cabinet.