The Catholic Weekly writes "Catholic cemetery operators have accused NSW Property Minister, Melinda Pavey of leading an ongoing war on religious groups by continuing her push for faith-based groups to be removed from the management of cemeteries in Sydney."
The Minister last month issued a notice to the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries and Crematoria Trust (CMCT) that it would be placed into administration on Friday 1 October 2021, which has now been extended until 30 December 2021.
This was despite the NSW Government informing Archbishop Anthony Fisher in June that the CMCT would be permitted to continue its work providing affordable faith-based burial services for more than 150 years.
Ms Pavey recently merged three other struggling and unsustainable State-controlled cemetery trusts into a single model called One Crown.
CMCT Director, Mr Danny Casey said Ms Pavey is attempting to fold the unprofitable operators into the profitable and successful CMCT and the public should be sceptical about the Minister’s motives.
“It is no surprise that Minister Pavey is seeking to merge the CMCT and One Crown, which through many years of mismanagement, is facing a $160 million shortfall while the CMCT has about the same sum in surplus, perpetual care funds to ensure many faith groups can bury their dead”, Mr Casey said.
“The Premier and Cabinet has authorised the Deputy Premier, now Paul Toole, to solve this issue and all the Sydney faith groups welcomed his calm hard work on this issue. In an otherwise competent government, Minister Pavey’s anti-faith bias shows no similar competence.”
Close to 20,000 people have signed an e-petition calling on the NSW Government to ensure Catholic operators are able to continue playing their part in the management of Sydney cemeteries.
The work of the Catholic cemetery bodies is strongly supported by other faith organisations including Jewish and Muslim groups which also rely upon the Catholic providers to ensure that faith-based burial customs are closely observed in the management of cemeteries.
Mr Casey said the CMCT has had development applications approved for two new cemeteries in Varroville and Wallacia to meet growing demands for burial plots in western Sydney.
But he said both have been prohibited by Ms Pavey from commencing construction ,with no justification given.