All Saints' College on market to pay diocese's bank debt

Ian Palmer.

Ian Palmer.

ALL Saints’ College is to be sold to help the Anglican Diocese of Bathurst repay a multi-million dollar debt to the Commonwealth Bank.

Plans to sell the school were confirmed on Saturday during the first day of a local synod meeting. Nine other unidentified church properties across the diocese have also been earmarked for sale to repay the debt.

The sale of All Saints’ comes three years after Orange Anglican Grammar School and the Macquarie Anglican Grammar School were also sold, but those funds were not enough to clear the church’s debt.

But Anglican Bishop of Bathurst Ian Palmer yesterday predicted All Saints’ would thrive like the Orange and Dubbo schools had since they were sold.

“I can honestly say that if we go by the example of the Macquarie and Orange Anglican Grammar schools, they have prospered,” Bishop Palmer said.

“I certainly don’t see this as a threat.”

Confirmation of plans to sell the school also comes just weeks before new head of college Steven O’Connor is due to begin at All Saints’.

All Saints’ acting head of college Stewart Ross will return to his former role as head of senior school when Mr O’Connor starts at the beginning of term two.

Mr Ross yesterday said he had confidence Mr O’Connor was the best person to lead the school into its future given he had been in this position previously.

“In actual fact, the school he had been in, in Albury, was transferred to new owners while he was there,” Mr Ross said.

Mr Ross said he had confidence the school would remain an Anglican school and hoped it would be sold to an Anglican entity with access to large funds to resource the growing school of 500 students.

“I’d like to see someone come in who continues with the school’s ethos and culture and the ability to put some more money in,” Mr Ross said.

Students and their families have not yet been formally told of the decision given the synod meeting occurred on the first day of holidays.

“I think it’s been on people’s minds for some period of time ... most certainly knew it was a possibility,” Mr Ross said.

The diocese was forced to sell the properties after recent consultation with the bank, following a March Supreme Court ruling which found the church had a legal obligation to repay borrowings and it could sell church property to do so.

NO churches or graveyards will be sold to meet the Anglican Diocese of Bathurst’s debt repayments to the Commonwealth Bank – but 10 properties are on the chopping block. 

All Saints’ College is one property on the list but Bishop Ian Palmer yesterday would not divulge information regarding the other nine properties because it was “commercial in confidence”. 

He said parishioners would be told once the deed of settlement was signed. 

“The way in which the Commonwealth Bank is working with us is in the spirit of generosity,” Bishop Palmer said. “They are committed to helping us and working with us.”

The announcement follows a synod meeting on Saturday where delegates met to determine how the diocese would meet its obligation to the bank after a Supreme Court ruling, in March, ruled the diocese legally obligated to repay its borrowings. 

Before the sale of the Orange Anglican Grammar School and the Macquarie Anglican Grammar School in 2013, it is understood the diocese owed the bank $40 million. 

Parishioners were told the church would go ahead with the sale of 10 properties at the Blessing of The Harvest on Sunday, in Orange, and via a letter distributed by Bishop Palmer. 

The synod resolved to authorise Bishop Palmer and the bishop’s registrar to continue negotiations with the bank and it voted to instruct the Bishop in Council and the Anglican Property Trust to facilitate the sale of church properties and to “take any other action in order to fulfil the obligations agreed in this settlement”.

“In my address to the synod I said that the Commonwealth Bank had generously given us a window of opportunity to reach a settlement,” Bishop Palmer said.