A BUREAUCRATIC mess has entangled Albury’s Buddhists so tightly they will leave their besieged South Albury temple tomorrow.
Consumer Affairs Victoria will decide who should occupy the property situated on Abercorn Street.
The NSW property was registered in 1993 with Consumer Affairs Victoria under Wat Phouthavongsayaram Lao Buddhist, a separate group to the Thai monks who run the temple now.
Consumer Affairs deregistered the group in 2001 because it failed to meet requirements including lodging annual statements and responding to statutory requests, a spokeswoman for Consumer Affairs said.
In 2007, Thai monks re-opened the building and have continued to operate it as a temple until now.
In February last year, Consumer Affairs, gave notice of its intention to sell the property, which remains vested with the Registrar of Incorporated Associations, part of Consumer Affairs Victoria.
A Consumer Affairs Victoria spokeswoman said they wanted the property to remain in the hands of the Budd- hist community.
“Consumer Affairs Victoria continues to work with all interested parties in an attempt to settle this matter and to ensure the property continues to serve the local Buddhist community,” she said.
Thai monk Ajahn Satit said the monks would leave the premises after the service on Sunday and wait for Consumer Affairs to decide if they were the rightful occupiers.
“We cannot continue in here until the legal process has been finalised,” Ajahn said.
“I do feel people will be upset that they don’t have a temple to come anymore.”
Ajahn took over the services two years ago and travels from Sydney every weekend.
For the first four Sundays in 2011, no one came to his services and now, about 20 followers attend. Tomorrow 60 people are expected to attend the final service.
Albury’s Michael Veres, who has attended for two years, said the battle had cast an “unease” over their group.
“The teaching itself doesn’t depend on a building, but it’s good to have a central location to come together,” he said.
He said premises in Thurgoona were offered as a temporary home.
The monks were victims of vandalism and burglary during the past two years.