Reprieve hits home for one Anglican congregation, with sell-offs a reality for others

The Examiner December 3 2018 Matt Dennien

As Reverend Josephine Pyecroft read the list of Quamby Parish properties saved from sale under plans to partially fund the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania’s obligations to the national redress scheme, her congregation held its breath.

St Andrew’s Church, Carrick; St Andrew’s Church, Westbury. Then: St Mary’s Church, Rectory and Cemetery, Hagley – the church in which they gathered. After months of anxious waiting and community action, parishioners who packed the building – the family histories of many deeply intertwined with its own rich history – breathed a collective sigh of relief.    Then they wept.

“I couldn’t believe that we would get all three,” said John Temple, a Meander Valley councillor and one of the many thousands who told their stories to the royal commission which sparked the redress scheme. “I was in tears.” “But there will be dreadful news for others,” he added. “How can we help them now?”                                                                                                               

Many lingered long after the service, including Mr Temple and his daughter Elizabeth – the fifth generation of the family to come through St Mary’s – and Lyons Labor MHA Jen Butler.

John Temple, Reverend Josephine Pyecroft and Lyons Labor MHA Jen Butler at St Mary's Church in Hagley after the service on Sunday. Picture: Matt Dennien

It had also been a long night for some. Reverend Pyecroft and her secretary waited up for news from the Diocese until after 11pm on Saturday. “I felt [St Mary’s] would be safe due to the cemeteries act, but I was terrified of having to tell them all out at Carrick and Westbury,” she said. After meeting on Saturday, a letter containing the Diocesan Council’s decision was sent to parishes that night, with instructions to share it in their Sunday service.

For Reverend Pyecroft the news was a “huge relief” for the Quamby Parish, but her heart went out to others whose churches and cemeteries have now been listed for closure and sale.

The final list now contains 51 churches – 22 with cemeteries. All up, 25 churches were spared. Both of Mr Temple’s parents are buried in the St Mary’s cemetery. “I was married here, it’s a very important place for me,” he said. “My daughter was christened here.” “I’m only a link in the chain.”

Rosemary Stobart, a member of the parish council, was one of the last to leave the building on Sunday. “I was married here, my children were baptised, they’ve been confirmed,” she said. “We moved to Westbury in 1950. My mother was on the parish council, my sister was on parish council, now I’ve gone onto parish council.”

“When the Bishop told me it was bricks and mortar, I said it’s a bit more than that.”

In a statement released on Sunday, Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, the Right Reverend Dr Richard Condie, said the church had “listened and responded to church and community feedback”. “We recognise that our church buildings are important places and hold significant value,” he said. “Retaining 30 per cent of the properties will have an impact on the funds we are able to raise. However, sacrificial giving from parishes has reduced this impact to the Redress Fund.” “Our compassion for survivors of child sexual abuse in our organisation is the driver for the costly path the Anglican Church has embarked upon,” he said.

Bishop Condie could not say how much money had been raised, or what impact even fewer property sales may have had on that figure.


Investigation needed into potential misuse of taxpayer funds in Courtney scandal

Jen Butler MP
Labor Member for Lyons                                                                                       17 October 2018

Investigation needed into potential misuse of taxpayer funds in Courtney scandal

• Spending of taxpayers’ money – including on trips – must be looked at
• Costs of secretary’s decision to work from Launceston must be scrutinised
• Hodgman running cover for undisciplined Liberal Ministry

Head of Labor’s Spending Scrutiny Committee Jen Butler has demanded the Premier refer the potential misuse of taxpayer funds by former Minister Sarah Courtney and the secretary of her department Dr John Whittington to the Auditor-General.

“The Auditor-General must be asked to investigate the expenditure of taxpayer funds including funds expended on the recent trade mission to Asia, including China and Hong Kong,” Ms Butler said.“The Auditor-General must also investigate whether or not Dr Whittington was working two days a week from Launceston, in Ms Courtney’s electorate, whether this was appropriate and the cost to Tasmanian taxpayers.“Tasmanians need to know how much of their money has been spent on travel, accommodation and entertainment during the period of Ms Courtney and Dr Whittington’s affair.

“If the Premier refuses, he is running a protection racket for bad behaviour for an undisciplined Liberal Ministry which has no regard for taxpayers’ money.
“The Premier must also clear up his mixed messages on Dr Whittington – has he been stood down or is he on leave?”

MP introduces motion into parliament to stop the sale of three churches


Lyons Labor MHA Jen Butler.

The state government is being urged to intervene to stop the sale of three historic northern Tasmanian churches.

Lyons Labor MP Jen Butler has tabled a motion in the House of Assembly calling on the Minister for Heritage to stop the closure of St Mary’s at Hagley, St Andrew’s at Westbury and St Andrew’s Carrick by the Anglican Church.

“These churches are of irreplaceable significance to Tasmania’s heritage and must be protected,” Ms Butler said.

She said the Anglican Church has voted to proceed with a plan to sell 76 Churches to partly fund the redress scheme.

“We acknowledge support for the redress scheme,” Ms Butler said.

“But we must acknowledge the significant historical importance of St Marys Church at Hagley, St Andrews Church at Westbury and St Andrews Church in Carrick.”

She said St Marys Church in Hagley was built in 1861 by Sir Richard Dry, one of our founding fathers, the first Tasmanian born Premier, Speaker of the House and the first Tasmanian to be knighted. “

Sir Richard Dry, part of the ‘Patriotic six’ stopped the transportation of convicts to Tasmania and later introduced mandatory public education,” Ms Butler said.

“Sir Richard Dry is buried underneath the chancel at St Marys Church, Hagley.”

She said St Andrews Church at Westbury included the largest collection of works by internationally renowned wood carver Ellen Nora (Nellie) Payne including the magnificent Seven Sisters Screen, church pulpit, prayer desk and altar.

“We call upon the Minister for Heritage to stop the closure and sale of the Quamby Parish churches and other significant historical churches based on their irreplaceable significance to Tasmania’s heritage,” Ms Butler.

A Government spokesman said the sale of churches was a matter for the Anglican Church to determine.

“The Tasmanian Government has acted swiftly in moving to conduct a review of the Burial Act, and is committed to preserving, protecting and clarifying both the rights of community members and the obligations on cemetery managers,” the spokesperson said.


JUNE 12 2018

Sue Bailey - The Examiner



Huge economic boost as St Helens gears up for a One Night Stand

Labor Lyons MP Jen Butler has congratulated her home town St Helens on securing one of the country’s biggest music events in a significant cultural and economic coup for the East Coast.

Ms Butler said she was thrilled Triple J’s One Night Stand concert would be held in St Helens on September 1 considering the boost the event had given to towns where it has been staged in the past, including Mt Isa in Queensland and Geraldton in Western Australia.

“With the East Coast so reliant on tourism and tourist dollars, this is a significant coup for my home town,” Ms Butler said.
“I understand that as of this morning – after Triple J made the announcement – there has been a rush on accommodation in the region and that’s great news for the local industry.

“You can’t underestimate the value of an event like this for St Helens on both a local and national scale, giving a boost to local business and providing nation-wide exposure for the region.

“I know that the most recent event in Mt Isa last year was estimated by the local council to have given the town a $3 million boost in terms of the sheer numbers of people who travelled north to take part.

“With acts like Vance Joy, Peking Duk and Middle Kids in this year’s line up, local business can look forward to a boom.

“In that regard, local resident Kristi Chapple deserves a huge congratulations for making an official submission to Triple J to help put St Helens on the national music map.”