IT is 50 years since I left All Saints’ in 1968. That anniversary has caused me to reflect on its demise.
Many people will know that All Saints’ has been sold by the Anglican diocese and is to be renamed Scots All Saints College with a new motto, crest, colours and a new board.
It is surprising that there has been little public discussion into how a venerable institution like All Saints’ came to be forcibly sold. It was nearly 140 years old and has an impressive alumni, including two famous war historians (Charles Bean and Gavin Long) and at least one winner of the Victoria Cross.
I glean from a judgement of the Supreme Court that the diocese borrowed from the Commonwealth Bank almost $40 million in 2008 to fund two new schools.
The judgement states they were overladen with debt, incapable of repaying the borrowed monies and default was inevitable.
Those authorising such hefty loans were apparently prepared to put the assets of the diocese at risk in the event of a default in repayment.
The consequence has been that significant assets, built up over more than 150 years, have been sold, including All Saints’, leaving the diocese impoverished.
In the business world or in government, this disastrous state of affairs would lead to a public inquiry to find out why so much was lost, including answers to questions such as:
- How did anyone (including the CBA) think it realistic that two new regional schools could repay a debt of such magnitude?
- Where were the custodians of All Saints’ when it was effectively mortgaged to the CBA to enable the two new schools to be established? Did they object?
- Could the governance of the school have been structured better so as to safeguard the school from the activities of the diocese?
Without an exposure of the whole story, one is left with a sense that something of value has been lost without an adequate explanation or accountability.
Why would benefactors entrust their funds to an institution with such a poor record of managing trust money?
I acknowledge that out of the ashes of the old, a new, different and perhaps better institution may possibly emerge.
One would hope that the system of governance is more transparent and accountable than the one which brought down Saints.