CHIEF of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell will investigate giving SAS families a say about the proposed demolition and redevelopment of Seaward Village in Swanbourne.
“I will look at the question of the form and the degree to which it represents a neutral and encouraging environment for people to speak freely,” Lt Gen Campbell told Senate Estimates hearing last week.
Military families have been under pressure since neighbouring ratepayers and the City of Nedlands took up their concerns about Defence Housing Australia (DHA) spending a mooted $165 million demolishing the 154-home village, selling a quarter of the site for civilians and building 165 new soldiers’ houses on the remaining land.
Senator Stephen Conroy said village residents would be involved in surveys by the Department of Defence about the redevelopment and could have “reticence to express views directly when you are standing in front of your partner’s superior officers”.
Lt GenCampbell said he would look to understand the “degree of comfort our people would have in expressing their views”.
Senator George Brandis cut short Sen Conroy’s questions about soldiers’ security concerns sparked by having civilians living in the village after its redevelopment, which DHA claims is partly needed because the $4290 spent annually repairing each home is twice the average for a DHA house in Perth.
DHA managing director Peter Howman said the average stay in the village was 2.2 years and six years average for recurring postings when he explained how families could stay in the beachside enclave during its redevelopment proposed until 2022.
Nedlands Cr Nikola Horley challenged DHA’s claims about the length of soldiers’ stays in the village and said Swanbourne and Mt Claremont children had gone through primary and high schools with the same children of SAS soldiers.
Last Friday, she took ratepayers’ and villagers’ concerns to Cottesloe MLA Colin Barrett.
DHA will host an information session at Associates Rugby Union Football Club, Allen Park, from 4-7pm this Wednesday.