The Chief of the Australia Defence Force (ADF) has taken the unusual step of publically warning the Turnbull Government and Finance Department against privatising the body that manages housing for Australian military personnel and their families.

Defence Force head Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin’s comments come a day after the ABC revealed Defence Housing Australia (DHA) managing director Peter Howman had resigned, and was immediately replaced by a senior Finance Department bureaucrat.

The sudden leadership change has angered the military community, which fears the Government could again be preparing to privatise the agency.

His comments came after the abrupt resignation of the respected managing director Peter Howman and his replacement by Finance Department bureaucrat Jan Mason, prompting claims by defence groups that the government was reviving plans to privatise the body.

“Defence supports the continuation of DHA as a government-owned entity,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.

“Defence and DHA have built a positive and productive relationship over many years to meet the specific housing needs of ADF personnel that helps to mitigate some of the challenges associated with service life.

“DHA provides a single point of contact that understands the unique requirements and demands military service can present.”

The Defence Housing Association owns or leases an estimated $10 billion in property, which is used to house defence personnel and their families.

The Abbott government considered privatising it and commissioned a scoping study in the 2014 budget. The company was valued at $2.2 billion during the privatisation process. In May the government ruled out privatisation “at this time”.