A $1 billion plan to privatise Sydney’s cemeteries by the giant funeral, coffin and cremation company InvoCare in partnership with the Catholic Church has been ruled out by the NSW Minister for Lands, Paul Toole.
Speaking at the opening of a new Jewish cemetery at Rookwood Necropolis on Tuesday, Mr Toole said the government was considering a report on how to create much needed new burial space, but privatisation of cemeteries was not the answer.
Some inner Sydney cemeteries could be exhausted by 2020, according to a projection based on 2015 figures in the Metropolitan Sydney Cemetery Capacity Report. Others could be exhausted by 2026. And across metropolitan Sydney, all cemeteries would be full by 2051 unless further action is taken.
The new Jewish cemetery, known as Lot 27, will provide another 1792 allotments. But Jewish burial will cease – because of lack of space – at Rookwood within a decade, said the chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff. Long before Rookwood, Jewish burials at other Sydney cemeteries would also have run out, said Mr Alhadeff.
For those of the Muslim faith, the need for more burial space is even more crucial – the burial place for Muslims at Rookwood, Lot 10, is running out of space at an even faster rate. That’s why the Jewish community ceded its remaining space in another burial area at Rookwood to the Muslims, and negotiated to consecrate a new space for the Jewish community.