A report in the The Sydney Morning Herald this day states "Death is big business. Sales of graves, wall niches and other services required to bury the dead or dispose of ashes generated profits of $29 million, including $12 million from Rookwood - for the NSW government in the last financial year."
The article continues; "But new NSW government legislation, which required crown cemeteries to report their finances for the first time, lifts the lid on the Crown cemeteries' finances.
Accounts now being finalised show these government-owned cemeteries had turnover of $86 million, and $426 million in assets, including shares and other investments, with liabilities of $32.4 million.
About half of the 49,000 people who die every year in NSW are buried in crown cemeteries, although they represent only a quarter of all cemeteries."
Bob Wilson, the chairman of the Rookwood General Cemeteries Reserve Trust, said a report into the cemetery's operations, which was recently handed to the government and the Independent Commission Against Crime, did not find any evidence of corruption. He said. ''We have had to initiate a series of audits across cemetery and they are continuing.
''It has shown lot of controls were very loose, and that a lot of the assets had deteriorated [including vehicles and lifting gear]."
According to the chief executive of the newly amalgamated Northern Suburbs Group of Crown cemeteries, Pauline Tritton, these new governance procedures were the most important part of the reforms. ''Most of us have heard of examples of bad business practices and cemeteries operating like 'fiefdoms' without the rigid financial and ethical protocols in place similar to normal businesses,'' she said.