3 April 2024

'Picking the pockets' of grieving families: Councillor slams new state tax on cemeteries, cremations

| James Day
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Local Government NSW president, Councillor Darriea Turley, has branded the new tax a cost-shifting move by the NSW Government. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Every burial and cremation carried out in NSW will soon be taxed by the State Government following an announcement before the Easter long weekend.

The new tax will apply to local council-owned cemeteries and crematoria, which undertake more than 40 per cent of all burials in metropolitan areas and more than 80 per cent in rural and regional areas.

Local Government NSW president, Councillor Darriea Turley, said council-operated cemeteries should not be required to pay the tax to fund the operations of the bureaucracy that regulated them.

“The regulators are public servants who should be paid from state coffers, not by picking the pockets of councils and families who have lost a loved one,” Cr Turley said.

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“It is inequitable for the NSW Government to ask for council cemeteries to contribute to the costs of funding the NSW Government regulator, while the NSW Government makes its own Crown cemeteries exempt from paying council rates for their large cemeteries.”

Cr Turley called the new tax another example of cost shifting that would particularly hit rural and regional families in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. She has written to the State Minister for Lands and Property, Steve Kamper, calling for a reversal of the decision.

She said that in contrast to other cemetery operators, councils were already heavily regulated under the Local Government Act 1993. It covers financial sustainability, oversight, reporting and transparency.

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On top of this, Cr Turley said the State Government’s Crown cemeteries were already effectively subsidised by the councils in which they were located, through the operation of Section 556 of the Local Government Act.

Section 556 exempts land used for a public cemetery and vested in the Crown, a public body or trustees from all rates, other than water supply special rates and sewerage special rates.

Cr Turley said this rate exemption for substantial tracts of metropolitan land should be considered a council contribution that supported cemeteries operated by Crown land managers to fund the regulator.

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