Seaward Village report to be publicly available in wake of scrapped proposal

Curtin MHR Julie Bishop.
Curtin MHR Julie Bishop.

A CENSORED report will be publicly available of the review of the now scrapped proposal to sell part of the SAS Seaward Village for profit in Swanbourne.

“I expect a redacted version of the report to be on my website this week,” Assistant Minister for Defence Michael McCormack told the Western Suburbs Weekly this morning.

It was proposed Defence Housing Australia (DHA) flatten half the 22ha village for 160 civilian lots, and the sales used to finance a new high-density precinct of soldiers’ homes on remaining land next to the SAS’s Campbell Barracks.

However, the proposal generated a 22-month campaign of opposition by former soldiers, SAS soldiers’ wives and Swanbourne residents who supported the villagers and feared disruption of their lives and nearby Allen Park.

In Canberra, MPs at both Senate Estimates and the Public Works committees questioned allowing civilian homes 300m from the barracks, when up to $400 million would be spent modernising the base to secure its long-term role in Australia’s defence.

The community’s campaign caused Curtin MHR Julie Bishop to lobby defence ministers and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott for a review of DHA’s proposal, before redeveloping the village was ditched this morning.

“I want to assure local people, in particular the SAS and their families, that we want to maintain Seaward Village in Swanbourne, we want to maintain Campbell Barracks here in Swanbourne, so that means keeping Seaward Village next to the SAS so those connections can continue,” Ms Bishop said.

It is now planned up to 12 homes in the worst condition in the 152-house village could be demolished and replaced, and a rolling program minimising disruption to SAS families started immediately to see what work is needed to refurbish the other properties, despite money for the work remaining unannounced.

“This refurbishment is fantastic result for the community and the SAS, but we will continue to watch what is happening,” Swanbourne resident MerrileeGarnett said.

SAS wife Mrs A said that villagers would still not trust DHA until the refurbishments were completed.

Swanbourne Coastal Alliance convenor Jean-Paul Orsini said the village appeared safe for “the next few years”, but the community still had to be vigilant about any future potential development proposals.