The Sydney Morning Herald reports the NSW government has stopped construction of the only new cemetery approved for Sydney despite its own crisis report warning the lack of burial space is much worse than previously thought.

According to the SMH

An artist’s impression of Macarthur Memorial Park.An artist’s impression of Macarthur Memorial Park.

NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey asked the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust on Monday to place all work on hold at Macarthur Memorial Park, near Campbelltown, until the government responded to the report.

The report, “The 11th hour: Solving Sydney’s cemetery crisis”, recommends consolidating the five existing cemetery trusts, one Catholic and four government, into a single Crown trust to place the sector on a “sustainable basis”.

By merging the trusts, it would reduce 30 per cent of existing inefficiencies and provide standardised maintenance, the report found. This would help the government fund net liabilities, estimated to be in excess of $310 million, to pay for the maintenance of cemeteries in the future. Within 20 years, these savings would generate enough excess capital to acquire and construct new cemeteries needed for Sydney.

Without these changes, the report warns cemeteries posed a significant financial risk to the state’s finances.
The review was commissioned by Ms Pavey to make recommendations on the challenges facing the sector, review the existing legislation and evaluate the efficiency of the existing trusts. The chief executive of Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust Peter O’Meara said Ms Pavey’s decision “did not make sense”.