FEDERAL Parliament’s oldest committee will examine the proposed $48.3 million refurbishment of the SAS’s 154-house Seaward Village in Swanbourne.
“The proposal to refurbish Defence Housing Australia (DHA) houses at Seaward Village has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works (PWC),” DHA managing director Jan Mason said.
Residents and environmentalists who support the soldiers and their families helped save the 1980s-era, 22ha village from demolition and redevelopment earlier this year.
In May, a government review was told DHA maintenance of the homes lapsed before it proposed to demolish the houses and use half the land for 140 lots to help pay for 165 new soldiers’ homes in a medium-density precinct on the remaining land.
The potential need for top-up funding was subsequently questioned at PWC hearings, soldiers faced private homes being 300 metres from their strategically sensitive Campbell Barracks, villagers’ security was in question and ratepayers were concerned about loss of revegetated bush and trucks using local roads for several years.
The Opposition caused the Government to announce a review of DHA’s proposals before Curtin MHR Julie Bishop announced the refurbishment in April.
Parliament can scrutinise any Federal Government works project worth more than $15 million, but DHA was removed from the process in 2013.
The refurbishment will not be kept from the PWC because it is jointly funded by the Department of Defence and while it includes new kitchens, floors and laundries for about 40 of the homes, another 10 or 12 homes may be demolished because of poor condition.
Ms Mason said DHA wanted to minimise disruption to SAS families and there would be “close liaison”, but the refurbishment could not start until the PWC gave its approval.
However, some villagers say they have not heard from DHA since June, while others face a lack of clarity about when and where they will move while the refurbishments take place.
“The association will continue to pay close attention to this refurbishment for the sake of all the community,” Australian SAS Association vive-chairman Andrew Leahy said.
The PWC public hearing may be held in Perth late next month.
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