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21,000 Defence families not reassured on housing.

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Media Release


Laurie Ferguson

Shadow Minister for Defence, Science and Personnel


June 13 1998




Defence families were not reassured by the Government’s vague media statement on the future of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Shadow Defence Science & Personnel Minister Laurie Ferguson has told the 82nd Annual State Congress of the RSL in Perth.


‘For some months the 21,000 families who rent houses from the DHA. including more than 1,000 in Perth, have been anxiously awaiting the outcome of Cabinet’s decision to consider privatising the Authority,’ Mr Ferguson said.


‘As I noted in Parliament on 3 June, the recent Federal Budget failed to clarify the situation. Two days later Ministers Bishop and Fahey issued a four-sentence statement saying the Authority would remain in Government ownership.’


‘Given the Coalition’s declared position on privatisation, and the approaching Federal election, this statement really only rules out selling the Authority for the time being.’


‘There is nothing in the joint media release that properly clarifies the medium-term future of Defence housing arrangements, only that threat that the Authority ‘will be restructured on a more commercial basis’:


‘This suggests the Coalition still does not understanding the nature of Defence rental housing. As the Authority's Chairman, Peter Jollie, wrote in the its 1996-97 Annual


‘the Authority’s function requires it to acquire and retain housing according to the disposition of the De fence Force, and without regard to market conditions. This exposes the Authority to 'non commercial’ timing in entering and exiting markets. (p.3).


Mr Ferguson also announced to the RSL Congress that five Vietnam veterans, including three from Western Aus tralia, had so far written to the Governor General declining the offer of a Commendation for gallantry.


‘This follows Minister Bishop’s appalling decision that only officers should receive the Medal for Gallantry, with other ranks being downgraded to a Commendation. These veterans have waited far too long for proper recognition. They have indicated that there are prepared to face a further wait until they receive the Medal they are entitled to.’


For further information:

Laurie Ferguson MIP 0418 601 716 (m)

Warren Gardiner (02) 9635 1542 (h)