Meander Valley Gazette

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Council challenge Diocese

NewsJoanne EisemannComment

July 2018 | Sharon Webb

MEANDER VALLEY Council has strong concerns about Tasmania’s Anglican Diocese plan to sell churches and cemeteries, and will make this clear in a submission to the church.

Councillors have had negative feedback from residents about the sell-off proposal and Mayor Craig Perkins said there is no way the council will contribute funds to a bailout of the diocese.

The Anglican Church plans to sell church buildings and cemeteries to pay redress to survivors of child sexual abuse by its members under the National Redress Scheme.

In the June council meeting Cllr Tanya King successfully moved a motion to make a submission to the diocese, saying she had been approached by residents about the inadequacy of Anglican consultation on the issue.

“People are concerned about the effect of the move on congregations and parishes, especially that only 25 per cent of the funds from the sale will go to pay redress,” she said.

Councillors will discuss the contents of the submission in a workshop on 24th July. Cllr Rodney Synfield unsuccessfully moved that discussion canvas alternate funding options instead of property sales.

“There are serious alternatives which may mean properties in our area may not need to be sold at all,” he said.

“There are also questions about the legalities of the sale related to who constructed the properties. There may be other ways of dealing with this and that ought to inform our response to the Anglican Church.”

Cllr John Temple supported Cllr Synfield’s motion but it was lost.

Councillors also endorsed a motion from May’s Local Government Association of Tasmania meeting acknowledging the importance of redress for victims of abuse but noting the concern being expressed across a number of Tasmanian communities about the sale of their local churches and cemeteries.

The motion sought that the Anglican Church ensures that those communities are not being made to pay unfairly for the actions of leaders in the church and give genuine consideration, to the huge impact on communities, particularly rural and regional Tasmania.