The Burial and Cremation Amendment Bill 2018 has today passed the Lower House.

The legislation is an important step in preserving, protecting and, where appropriate, strengthening the rights of community members and cemetery managers.

 After extensive consultation with the community and cemetery managers, the Government strongly believes that the Bill strikes the right balance between protecting the community, while also enabling cemetery managers to do their important work without undue regulatory burden.

Amendments include:

  • Introducing a staged closure process. The Regulator will have the capacity, upon application, to approve the closure of a cemetery no earlier than 50 years since the last interment. Unless an application is made by the cemetery manager to reduce the timeframe, the cemetery manager cannot do anything else with the land (such as remove headstones or exhume bodies) until 100 years since the last interment. The Regulator can also place conditions on the closure to ensure the ongoing protection of graves;
  • Removing the requirement for cemetery managers to undertake a five yearly audit as originally proposed, and rather, the Regulator can require an audit at their discretion; and
  • Setting out that a person becoming a cemetery manager must be a body corporate with perpetual succession, and lists the matters that may be considered as part of the test of whether that entity is a ‘fit and proper person’ to manage a cemetery.

Importantly, we acknowledge that a small number of cemeteries have been sold to private individuals under the current legislation. The Director of Local Government has committed to work through options in good faith that could deal with legacy arrangements as a priority in the second stage of the Review.

While this second tranche of the Review is underway, the Government believes these initial amendments proposed by the Bill provide the immediate necessary safeguards.

We now look forward to the Bill being debated in the Legislative Council.