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Australian diocese insolvent: The Church of England Newspaper, October 18, 2013 October 27, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Bishop of Bathurst in New South Wales reports the Commonwealth Bank has frozen diocesan bank accounts in an attempt to recoup A$36 million debt.

In a letter to his diocese read to churches on 6 Oct 2013, the Rt. Rev. Ian Palmer reported the garnishment would not touch parish accounts or diocesan payroll accounts. “At the moment there are some accounts that are frozen, these are affecting myself ,“ he wrote, adding “it’s affecting things like being able to use a credit card, but it’s not affecting  wages.”

“I am unable to see clearly what the diocese may look like in the future,” he said, as the debt “is large and we cannot repay the bank in full.”

Last year, Bishop Palmer’s predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Richard Hurford told the diocese it was a guarantor of $38 million in debts incurred by the Orange and Dubbo Anglican Grammar Schools and All Saints’ College in Bathurst.  The diocese was unable to make a balloon payment of $8 million due in September 2012 prompting its creditors to push the diocese to liquidate properties to raise cash.

The September sale of the two grammar schools had “crystallised” the diocese’s debt leaving it in a “very difficult place” Bishop Palmer said. The diocese was in “intense” negotiation with the bank, he said and “we’re still doing our sums”

But “it’s a fairly urgent situation,” he reported, however, “the important thing is the parishes are continuing to operate as normal.”

“We will need to give financially and sacrificially for the work of the church in this diocese” to continue Bishop Palmer wrote, noting the November meeting of synod would be asked to review a variety of options to pay off the loans.

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