Work begins on Sydney Notre Dame campus

Sydney's Cardinal George Pell presided over the commencement of building works on Friday at the St Benedict's campus of Notre Dame University in the inner suburb of Chippendale.

The Australian Financial Review published an account this morning that compares financial arrangements between the Sydney Archdiocese and the two Catholic universities that will be located with the Archdiocese - Notre Dame and the Australian Catholic University (ACU).

It says ACU will need to borrow money to pay the $8 million for the permanent use of the university's two Sydney campuses. The first tranche of $5 million was paid at the end of May and the balance of the $3 million leasing fee is due in 2010. This will enable the ACU to occupy the campuses in perpetuity.

But sources told the paper that the Archdiocese's business manager, Danny Casey, said at a recent meeting with stakeholders of the other Notre Dame site, Sacred Heart in Darlinghurst, that Notre Dame would not be paying rent because of the substantial amount it would spend on building work at the proposed Darlinghurst campus.

Notre Dame's vice-chancellor, Peter Tannock, has set aside $13 million for restoration and refurbishment of the new Sydney campus, which will be boosted by a $4 million federal government grant announced by Prime Minister John Howard last year. Cardinal Pell has also promised Notre Dame $5 million in direct cash support.

Mr Casey said Notre Dame would would incur "significant financial obligations for the very long-term use of the site" and as such "this would amount to their contribution".

He echoed the strong view expressed by Cardinal Pell last year in an interview with the AFR in which he said the ACU was being treated "much more generously" by the church than Notre Dame.

"The archdiocese has been nowhere near as generous with Notre Dame as it has with the ACU," Mr Casey said.

"Notre Dame will also be operating under the most rigorous catholicity agreement we've ever had and a breach of these conditions would lead to a termination in the use of the property," he said.

The ACU has also been forced to set aside $750,000 from last year's capital works funds to help pay the leasing fee.

"The . . . fee has serious ongoing budget implications . . . and strategies for dealing with the funding of this cost impost are being considered," the ACU's 2004 annual report says.

ACU will borrow to pay rent (Financial Review 06/06/2005 - payment required)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
University of Notre Dame Australia | Sydney Campus

Notre Dame University appoints new chancellor (CathNews 16/5/05)
ACU pays $8m to Sydney Archdiocese (CathNews 1/6/05)

ACU National empowers students to seek Social Justice (Australian Catholic University 3/6/05)
Uni to face fee increase after church raises rent (Sydney Morning Herald 2/6/05)
Commencement of building works & re-dedication ceremony for Notre Dame's St Benedict's Campus (University of Notre Dame Australia 2/6/05)

6 Jun 2005