Leeuwin plan stalls

MPs Josh Wilson and Lisa O’Malley are disappointed community access to Leeuwin’s ovals has been held up. Photo by Libby Hynes.

THE redevelopment of the Leeuwin Barracks has been put on hold by the Department of Defence.

Talk of selling the barracks has been ongoing since July 2015 when the department deemed them to have “no ongoing operational or strategic need”, but last week it published an update saying there had been a “forecast of new Royal Navy capabilities and workforce growth” in Perth and Fremantle.

Defence says it will undertake a new study into the potential long-term uses of the barracks which will be completed in the first quarter of 2022.

East Fremantle mayor Jim O’Neill said the council “was made aware” of the decision, but when asked if he was disappointed would only say the town had no influence over the decision. 

Bicton Labor MLA Lisa O’Malley said it was frustrating the plans were postponed. 

The McGowan government had already given East Freo $50, 000 which had been set aside to realign fences surrounding the barracks’ oval so it could be used by local sport clubs. 

“There is a lot of pressure on the local community sporting grounds already,” Ms O’Malleyt said. 

Fremantle federal Labor MP Josh Wilson said: “After six years of discussions it’s frustrating that the East Fremantle community has put a fair bit of thought and effort into considering the future of the site and now, we may be back to where we started. 

“I do hope the work we’ve done towards arranging access to the oval for local junior sports clubs will not be affected by this decision,” Mr Wilson said.

He said it was “unlikely” the postponement was linked to the recent AUKUS deal between Australia, the United States and Britain which could lead to a nuclear-powered submarine being stationed at Garden Island.

He said the Fremantle community, one of the first in the country to adopt an official nuclear-free stance, would be “rightly” concerned that the Morrison government had decided to go nuclear without consultation, but noted AUKUS was only an agreement to share technology and not a deal to actually purchase submarines. Mr Wilson said it could be 25 years before the first nuclear submarines were delivered.

by LIBBY HYNES

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