Senator says defence force families have ‘no problem’ with Seaward village refurbishment

Senator says defence force families have ‘no problem’ with Seaward village refurbishment

WA Senator Dean Smith says any SAS family member feeling rushed or pressured during the refurbishment of Seaward Village should contact his office.

“Any hint of a problem, call me,” Senator Smith said.

Senator Smith is a member of the Federal Government’s Parliamentary Committee on Public Works that examined Defence Housing Australia’s $46 million refurbishment of the 152-home village for SAS and other defence force members’ families at a West Perth hearing earlier this month.

After the hearing, it was claimed some villagers may have been moved in a rush at the end of last year, more than six months after a controversial proposal to sell half the village was scrapped by the Government, and that other families may face moving twice this year.

Villagers were also surprised that at the hearing DHA managing director Jan Mason said no homes would be demolished, when about a dozen were flagged to be brought down last year.

Senator Smith said he had no calls from villagers about any problems with the refurbishment, and in the hearing had heard DHA evidence that all families apart from three were contacted about the implications of moving for the project.

He said he now had a “strong sense” that after public outcry about the scrapped village sale DHA was now refurbishing for the benefit of all SAS families.

A submission to the hearing from former MHR Wilson Tuckey that the refurbishment could be below-grade because it did not include major infrastructure, such as sewers or wall cabling, was rejected by Senator Smith.

He said there were issues with Mr Tuckey’s suggestion SAS wives could choose their own commercially available homes, potentially saving DHA about $20m, because they would not be the same as village houses and could fail guidelines, including minimum backyard sizes.

DHA interviews with village families found 43 homes needed new ensuites, carports or garage to conform with refurbishment guidelines

Department of Defence strategic planning assistant director Guy Taylor said defence families had been “really concerned with their particular needs” when facing similar projects in the past, but the Seaward interviews had allowed the department to “effectively” deal with families’ needs.