Shake-up of Sydney cemetery industry

·2-min read

A critical shortage of space in Sydney cemeteries, as well as financial woes, has forced the NSW government to announce a shake-up of the industry.

Property Minister Melinda Pavey said the five existing cemetery operators on Crown land in Sydney will merge into one after a review found they're facing financial collapse.

The independent review into Sydney's cemetery crisis found Rookwood, Botany, Field of Mars and Macquarie Park cemeteries will be forced to close within three-to-12 years to new burials.

"This is much sooner than previous timeframes indicated and requires immediate action," the report found.

It found the Crown cemetery operators were collectively facing combined debts of more than $300 million and Sydney was fast running out of cemetery space.

Ms Pavey says the consolidation of the cemetery operators will secure the financial future of the Crown cemetery sector, ensuring that cemetery space is accessible and affordable for everyone.

The formation of a single entity for Crown cemeteries, known as 'OneCrown', was a key recommendation from the statutory review.

"The single operator will support consistent, transparent and affordable pricing across all Crown cemeteries to better support consumers, and ensure available land into the future," Ms Pavey said.

The report also recommended the acquisition of land for new cemeteries and a strengthening of the industry regulator.

Lee Shearer will be appointed as administrator, as the first step towards the establishment of OneCrown, taking on the functions of the boards of the five Crown cemetery operators.

This includes overseeing the recruitment of a single, multi-faith, multi-disciplinary skills-based board that will manage OneCrown's operations, establishing an advisory group to ensure the interests of all faiths are represented at all times, looking after the day-to-day management of cemeteries, acquiring and developing new cemetery land.

In the meantime, there will be no change to the operation of Crown cemeteries, with existing staff continuing in their roles.