ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY COMMUNICATIONS BRANCH ASSOCIATION
SALE of HMAS LEEUWIN / LEEUWIN BARRACKS
I have combined two member’s information from the meeting held at the East Fremantle Football Club yesterday with regard the sale of Leeuwin.
It appears to me that those giving the talk did not know enough about the details as you will see with the reading of the following information.
I thank both Ian Dunn (first intake 1960 and Jeff Wake seventh intake).
I have deliberately put the email addressed in the to box so you can see who gets this. If there are others not shown, please send it to them as appropriate – thanks.
It should also be noted that should members wish to make comments on any social media and or to their Federal/State members – the comments should be related only to the sale of Leeuwin and NOTHING else. There have been many derogative comments placed especially on Face Book with reference all other matters.
The following is as received by Mr. Ian Dunn, 1st Intake HMAS Leeuwin.
Ian was a member of the first Intake at HMAS Leeuwin under the JRTS in 1960 and attended the first, of 2 meetings, following the advertised [in NSW] information re the sale of Leeuwin.
I make no apology for the length of these two reports taken – it for your information and consideration.
The meeting opened with an address by Jurgen Fritz from the Disposal Office of the DoD. He gave a brief outline of the Govt decision to sell off several Defence properties and the reasons for these sales. He explained that the process had been progressing and the issues of site pollution and Heritage listing had been addressed. There is no "Heritage listing" anywhere. There is however a Registration of Heritage Significance with the State Heritage Office (Place no. 19710), lodged by the Town of East Fremantle in 2006. This entry has a recommendation that "Consideration should be given to nomination for State Register Listing prior to or at the time of consideration for further development".
Jurgen says this applies to post sale and not his responsibility. He revealed that he was tasked with performing "due diligence" on the sale but was unable to explain fully what that meant. He said several times that the Govt wants a quick sale. To Jurgen this means "no complications" and he was at pains to explain that they would not get involved in any extraneous matters relating to the sale. All matters of concern are to be sorted out after the sale, between the purchaser and any other authority or persons. It is to be a quick "as is" sale of a single tract of land and buildings with all responsibilities and requirements passed onto the purchaser.
WRT the JR Memorial, two people spoke passionately about what the Memorial means to Junior Recruits and the desire for it to be preserved in its current place. It was stressed that preservation needs to be done prior to the sale - it will be ignored once the sale goes through.
Eloise Ockwell said that she could maybe put a covenant in the sale contract to the effect that the memorial had to be preserved by the purchaser. Jurgen said that he would pass this idea on to the Legal Team who were looking at the sale documents at the moment. I expressed concern that the Lawyers would not understand the importance of the JR Memorial to the Perth community. We got further assurance that the covenant idea would be put forward. During the later session an idea was put to the forum that the land comprising the Drill Hall and including the Mast and Memorials out to the wrought iron gates should be excised from the property and "Gifted" to the Town of East Fremantle. T of EF would then derive income from the rental of the Drill Hall for community services and they would maintain the Memorials in perpetuity.
Jurgen seemed reluctant to explore this idea and restated the Govt position of no involvement in any development prior to sale. The later session was more subdued than the earlier session. T of EF Mayor and CEO were in attendance and the Mayor spoke briefly about all the work that had to be done by the purchaser before any houses would be built. A few local residents were there and expressed disappointment that the advertising of the forum was so low key and many were unaware of the meeting.
In conclusion I believe that we have made our position clear about our strong desire for the preservation of the JR Memorial prior to sale. I believe that Jurgen and Eloise will try to put a covenant into the sale contract without contravening their instructions from the Minister.
I believe a better outcome would be to excise our Memorial and the Drill Hall from the Leeuwin property and have the T of EF as custodians in perpetuity. Who is going to bear the cost of maintaining the Memorial should some other fate befall it?
Ian & Carolyn.
The following is from Jeff Wake 7th Intake HMAS LEEUWIN
Well the second meeting which took place tonight at the East Fremantle Football Club was poorly represented by the public. An ex City of East Fremantle Council sat with us and asked who we were. At that stage I was the only JR in the room. Ian Dunn arrived to make it 2 ex JR’s.
We chatted and I made a comment that I could not find the advert notifying that the meeting was on today in the West Australian. It was advertised in a very restricted local Fremantle paper which a lot of residents throw in the bin.
The Facilitator wanted to start the meeting at 1730 but my mate advised him that it couldn’t start before the advertised time 1745. In walks the Mayor of East Fremantle and his party of 3.
Leeuwin Barracks on the defence schedule is to be sold by 16 February 2016.
It is obvious that the questions asked at the midday session, well Mr Fritz has rung Fort Fumble [Canberra] to get some guidance because the tone was reduced considerable. Perhaps having Ian Dunn in the evening session as well as the midday one made him toe the party line.
He introduced the session by stating that they did not find the radioactive jeep. In 1964 doing NBCD the CPOME had a rope fenced off area of grass at the timber and asbestos NBCD hut. We as JR’s armed with a Geiger counter walked over the area and the Geiger counter would go off the scale. The CPO Stoker mentioned that it was a buried Monte Bellos radioactive jeep. It was buried at Leeuwin to try and record the safe limitations for humans to be near radioactive material buried in the dirt.
Anyway I didn’t bring this matter up again. What was made blatantly clear to Mr Fritz that the meeting was not publicised enough in East Fremantle as only 3 members of the public were present – all ex East Freo councillors. Questions then were asked that our evening meeting did not represent a cross section of public people and it was felt that the meeting had been given very little publicity to prevent anyone high jacking the Defence talk fest. In other words, it had been rigged.
A public member who likes to be involved in Defence things talked about an area ending behind the Drill Hall be fenced off from the main iron gates at the front to behind the western end of the drill hall be dedicated to East Fremantle Council for public areas. This gentleman stated that the drill hall was a building of substance whereas the State and local governments in WA had a practice of bull dozing the old out and erecting new buildings. He thought the drill hall would be a nice Navy Museum.
I asked the question of what was planned for the JR’s Memorial and other memorials in front of the drill hall.
Mr Fritz responded and here is where it has now altered...The memorials will be written into a caveat with the new owner not to bull doze.
The Mayor of East Fremantle, who met with Mr Fritz party yesterday were told nothing. It is Commercial-in-Confidence and we can’t divulge that info. The Mayor then spoke about a public area including the drill hall and memorials being gifted to the East Freo council and it would be preserved as is.
The Mayor was looking at me all the time he was talking. I think we have a friend in East Freo Council.
After the meeting I spoke to Ian Dunn and he related what had happened at the 1230 meeting – totally different situation.
I spoke to the Mayor after the meeting and he is still shaking his head at the short time frame. E.g. $100 MIL is really petty cash in the defence budget big picture. Oh yes – the money was to go back to Defence and NOT into consolidated revenue – if you can believe that. Dept of Finance are driving the sale of Defence land. The federal government has no $AUST to spend. It is all being consumed on the Illegal Immigrants situation and detention centre across the board some only with 3 people in then and costing shits loads per day to run.
I gave Mr Fritz and his Project Director my business card and thanked them for attending. They know how much the ex JR’s raised for the memorial and I think they have now shown some compassion that was not displayed at the previous meeting.
I think that’s about it.
From: Kevin Bovill
Subject: Disposal of Leeuwin Barracks
Hello Linda Reynolds – Senator
I trust that all goes well.
I attended the 12.15 hrs public meeting at the east Fremantle football club along with around 30 others mainly ex RAN JR’s. Melissa Parke had a staffer there as well as were a couple of City of East Fremantle councillors. Not much in the way of what you might call the “general public.”
The briefing was conducted by Mr Jürgen Fritz, Director Property Development-Department of Defence.
I noted the following:
• The sole intent was to maximise the $$$ return to DoD in the shortest time possible with the least amount of consultation or obstruction.
• He was totally unaware of any of the significant historical background to the site and it was his first visit to it. (The ghosts of some 13,500 graduates of the “college of shame” did not seem to register with him.)
• He was strong on policy and devoid of any lateral thinking.
• He confirmed when questioned that there had been NO consideration given to any possible alternative use of the site for the benefit of serving and former members of the ADF. Not his responsibility and really was not interested.
• He emphasised repeatedly that his role was to get the site off Defence’s books as quickly as possible.
• Claimed to have consulted with the City of East Fremantle-a claim disputed by the 2 (I think) councillors who were in attendance.
• The JR Leeuwin Memorial Preservation Committee (may have an incorrect designation) had a narrow focus and an emotionally driven but incoherent argument-I am unsure about their willingness to fight for what they want but were sufficiently astute to understand that what Mr Fritz was proposing to protect their interests was simply unsubstantiated bureaucratic waffle.
• The best that Mr Fritz could offer was that a “heritage site protection” clause MAY be included in any sale contract. He was keen to explain that the implementation and compliance of any such clause was the responsibility of the purchaser and NOT Defence. (I think that we both would know where this would go.)
• The Leeuwin JR MPC may be stiffening their resolve and could well support any expanded compromise offer made by any recognized body who may be willing to join the fight and take the lead on the issue. (Possible role here for the WA Minister for Veterans and the VAC.)
• He had not factored in the strong possibility of an Aboriginal land claim on the site.
• Overall, his brief was presented as a fait accompli on a like it or lump it basis.
I feel that the first priority MUST BE:
• To push back to finalized sale date by Feb 2016 by 6 months to at least 31st August 2016 so as to allow sufficient time for ALL interested parties to prepare their submissions.
• Inform the PM, MINDEF, Assistant MINDEF, the CDF and the Secretary of Defence that the “intention to dispose” as presented by Mr Fritz is a shabby deal for the people of Fremantle, all serving and former members of the ADF, the 13,500 former JR’s and the state of Western Australia-we deserve and demand a better return from Defence for the loyalty, hospitality and support given to the ADF, the RAN and visiting navies since federation.
Please give this your most urgent attention.
In the meantime, I will try and work up some alternative uses/possibilities/options to discuss at our next meeting.