Wilson Tuckey: SAS wives can save Canberra $20m by choosing display homes

Retired Maj-Gen Mark Evans (left, in hat) talks to Swanbourne residents during his review of the proposed Seaward Village redevelopment in 2016. Picture: Jon Bassett
Retired Maj-Gen Mark Evans (left, in hat) talks to Swanbourne residents during his review of the proposed Seaward Village redevelopment in 2016. Picture: Jon Bassett

OUTSPOKEN former Federal MP Wilson Tuckey told a Senate committee this morning that SAS wives should choose display homes to replace aging houses at Seaward Village to save Canberra $20 million.

“You can have a home under $150,000, and there are about 20 homes at $150,000 to $200,000, and 30 designs from $200,000 to $300,000,” Mr Tuckey, a former Public Works Committee chair, told its members.

The committee is examining Defence Housing Australia’s $46 million refurbishment of the 142-house Swanbourne village.

The refurbishment was favoured ahead of a proposal to sell half the 22ha site for private housing and build a smaller precinct for soldiers’ families.

Mr Tuckey said display homes costing about $30 million would allow for the replacement of long-term infrastructure, such as sewers and power supplies.

“The day after villagers’ houses are refurbished they could go to a power point and it blows up because new wall conduits may not have been fitted,” he said.

He said it was the committee’s job to inquire about cost benefits and make sure the taxpayer was not being “dudded”.

Committee deputy chairman Tony Zappia said Mr Tuckey’s submission prompted the committee to ask about using suburban housing stock at the village.

DHA spokesman Anthony Job would not comment about Mr Tuckey’s proposal, other than saying DHA had a record of providing “good homes” for defence personnel.

However, some villagers have already been affected by an apparently slow process to refurbish their homes, including being told to move from the village in a rush before Christmas.

DHA staff told the committee “zero” houses would now be demolished after stress was caused to some families when a proposed 10 houses were to be brought down last year.

Asked by Senator Dean Smith if results of the consultation with villagers in the past six months had delayed refurbishing, DHA managing director Jan Mason said she was not aware of anything.

Outside the committee, DoD staff discussed getting the City of Nedlands to reopen residential Sayer Street, which the council claims was not gazetted, to the village.

Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins said there had been no indication from Canberra that the road’s closure had affected the refurbishment.