Defence Housing


In recent editions of Camaraderie, we alerted readers to threats to Defence Housing Australia (eg Camaraderie Vol 45 No3, Vol 46 No 1 and Vol 46 No 2).  Following the consultant’s report to Government in 2015 (by Lazards, an financial advisory and asset management firm that  advises on mergers, acquisitions, restructuring, capital structure and strategy .. but not Defence capability !!), the Government announced that it would not proceed with recommendations to privatise DHA 'at this time' but undertake further studies of DHA. .

Rest on your arms reverse you may have thought ??  NO ! In late October 2015 we were alerted to a possible change of senior management at DHA, with the Department of Finance obviously agitating for change.  We then heard of the sudden appointment of a Department of Finance Deputy Secretary as Managing Director DHA, replacing Mr Peter Howman (who, coincidently on his last day in office, was awarded Customer Service CEO of the Year at the Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA) Australian Service Excellence Awards).

So our fears remain extant …. In short, that the Department of Finance, no friend of the ADF, aims to siphon off capital and operating funds to give the Government a one-off financial windfall and in the process emasculate DHA, to the detriment of Australian Defence Force families”. 

We have known for a long time that Finance has been targeting ADF members and veterans, opposing efforts at every turn to improve the service conditions of ADF members. Even recently Finance fiercely opposed claims for fair indexation of ADF superannuation and adoption of a fair benchmark for the Veterans’ Disability Pension.  

The only message that can be deduced from an ex-Finance bureaucrat being appointed as Managing Director of DHA is that the Government intends to allow the Department of Finance to implement the recent Lazard review of DHA and its recommendations. That review called for its privatisation.  This clearly flies in the face of good public policy when the present arrangements provide good housing for ADF families at little or no ongoing cost to the budget.  It even pays an annual dividend to Finance thus offsetting the Defence Budget.

In expressing the Association’s concerns, DFWA National President  David Jamison has stated that “Not only would such a move be detrimental to Australia’s defence capability, it would be detrimental to the ADF, whose personnel rely on having affordable and quality housing especially in the more remote areas away from their family and social support networks. That is something Defence understands but Finance refuses to accept”.    

“We thank the outgoing Managing Director Peter Howman for his service and success in guiding the DHA to where it is today, and wish him the best in the future” said David.   


On 23 March 2016 the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade held their long awaited meeting to inquire into the operations of DHA.  Of the eight submissions the Inquiry received, ours was not one of those invited to present at the Hearing. 

A PDF copy of our submission can be accessed here.  All the submissions can be accessed here.  

We were advised that 'it was the committee’s prerogative to choose which witnesses it wishes to invite to appear at its public hearings’.  The committee proffered that our written submission was sufficient for their consideration.

At the dissolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives on 9 May 2016 for a general election on 2 July 2016, the parliamentary committees of the 44th Parliament ceased to exist. Therefore inquiries that were not completed have lapsed for the time being.

The Association will continue to keep a very close watch on future developments with DHA.


ANAO AUDIT - 2019.  The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is undertaking an audit to assess whether Defence Housing Australia (DHA) administers its functions efficiently and effectively, and in accordance with the Government Business Enterprise guidelines.

The ANAO proposes to examine whether DHA: 

  • has established a fit-for-purpose services agreement with Defence;
  • has entered into value-for-money purchasing arrangements;
  • provides services to Defence personnel effectively;
  • provides services to Defence personnel efficiently; and
  • complies with governance, reporting and government business enterprise requirements.

The ANAO welcomes members of the public contributing information for consideration when conducting performance audits. Performance audits involve the independent and objective assessment of the administration of an entity or body’s programs, policies, projects or activities. They also examine how well administrative support systems operate. The ANAO does not have a role in commenting on the merits of government policy but focuses on assessing the efficient and effective implementation of government programs, including the achievement of their intended benefits.

The audit is currently collecting audit evidence and is seeking input from members of the public. The ANAO particularly value information that deals with significant matters or insights into the administration of the subject of this audit. Information can be submitted either by uploading a file, or by entering your information into the comments box below.

While your contribution will be considered, and handled with care, you will not automatically receive feedback about your contribution. However, if you provide your contact details, you may be contacted regarding your contribution. ANAO will be accepting contributions to their audit until Sunday 28 July 2019.

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