Seaward Village redevelopment: Labor plans to make it even tougher to sell Defence housing


From left: Opposition parliamentary secretary for defence Gai Brodtmann,ALP Curtin candidate Melissa Callaghan and opposition defence spokesman Stephen Conroy. Picture; Jon Bassett.
Seaward Village redevelopment: Labor plans to make it even tougher to sell Defence housing
From left: Opposition parliamentary secretary for defence Gai Brodtmann,ALP Curtin candidate Melissa Callaghan and opposition defence spokesman Stephen Conroy. Picture; Jon Bassett.

FEDERAL Labor aims to make it even more difficult to redevelop the SAS’ Seaward Village by strengthening the covenant preventing Defence Housing Australia (DHA) from selling its land.

Should it win the next election, Labor would remove a $15 million limit on what can be examined Canberra’s Federal Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works (PWC).

That would mean the PWC would have to sign off on any proposed sale of the village.

In April, the Government cancelled a DHA-proposed redevelopment of Seaward Village for civilian use, and instead approved a refurbishment favoured by community opposition led by SAS wives.

A review of the redevelopment recommended considering returning the village to Defence control.

“What we want to see is that it does not matter what valuation on a project is placed there, it will be a requirement that any proposal have independent scrutiny to make sure it is genuinely in the best interests of defence families,” Opposition defence spokesman Steven Conroy told the Western Suburbs Weekly last Wednesday.

“If the Public Works Committee has to sign off on anything I think that’s more powerful because Defence were onboard for this redevelopment, the Minister was on board , everybody signed up against these SAS families.

“I’m not confident that moving it from Defence Housing’s to Defence’s remit would not solve the problem because they were in cahoots together.”

After the refurbishment announcement, WA Liberal Senator Dean Smith advocated DHA be put back under the PWC’s examination.

Asked if the Coalition would strengthen the covenant and return DHA to the PWC, Curtin MHR Julie Bishop said the Government accepted the review’s recommendations the covenant should remain.

“The Deed of Covenant prevents DHA from selling or leasing any of the land to private citizens without the agreement of Defence and the Government has no plans to alter the covenant,” Ms Bishop said.

She said the refurbishment meant the covenant would continue to ensure Seaward Village was exclusively Defence housing.