Tas govt concerns over church redress plan

Tas Treasurer Peter Gutwein says the govt is worried about the Anglican diocese selling churches.Tasmania’s Anglican Diocese will sell dozens of historic churches to help fund millions of dollars in redress for survivors of child sexual abuse under a plan that has the state government worried about its impact on the community.

Anglican Bishop Richard Condie has pledged to pay $8.6 million in redress and wants the state to sign up to the national scheme.

The state’s Anglican body plans to sell more than 100 properties, including 76 churches plus halls, houses and blocks of land, with about a quarter of the money earmarked for redress.

But state Treasurer Peter Gutwein says people are worried about the community impact of the plan.

He will meet with church leaders next week to clarify “a range of matters” after a number of constituents raised concerns with him.

“I want to understand on what basis the properties will be sold and how cemeteries specifically will be dealt with,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

The diocese on Monday released a preliminary list of 78 properties, including 55 churches, it plans to put up for sale.

The full list will be made public after the church’s Synod in June.

It will then be open for community consultation, with a final list decided in December.

Tasmania is yet to join NSW, Victoria and the ACT in joining the national redress scheme that stemmed from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“We’re working through this matter and we’ll have more to say in coming weeks,” Mr Gutwein said.

“I’m hopeful we’ll be able to make a positive announcement.

“Tasmania as a jurisdiction is in a different position to most jurisdictions as we’ve already run a state-based scheme.

“We need to work through those matters, as well as the national scheme at the same time.”