Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3350..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
cremation rather than burial, most likely because of a shift in the attitude some religious groups have to cremation.
A final problem with this piece of legislation is the now common practice of removing existing regulations without having replacement regulations ready yet. The minister may develop regulations and codes of practice which would be disallowable instruments, but there would be no regulations in force if we were to pass this bill today.
The minister and Allen consultants may well believe that regulations requiring a sense of peace and order and not allowing heavy vehicles to be driven over wet areas to be outdated and overly detailed. But given the importance the cemetery has for many people in our community now and will have for many in the future when we are all gone, it is not a bad thing to have these basics spelled out. The government, my office was told, will work with the cemeteries trust and with cemeteries and crematoria to develop regulations. But this is not a good way for us to manage laws that affect people who may fall into the gap in the mean time.
Another change removes the specified positions on the cemeteries board of trustees which are reserved for leaders of religious denominations associated with particular areas in the cemetery. There is no mention of religious leaders in the bill, whereas the existing legislation makes scrupulous reference to all religions which may have an interest in the site. The new board would not even have one religious/spiritual position on it.
The Allen Group competition policy review argues that setting aside positions on the board for particular religious denominations comes at a cost, perhaps, of financial expertise. This argument really epitomises the ideological shift that this bill represents. To be able to argue that it is less important to have a spiritual perspective on a board overseeing a cemetery's management than it is to have financial expertise is to argue that providing a cemetery is just another business. While we recognise spirituality beyond religions and the necessity of basic, good financial management, this is reversing the emphasis and is not acceptable.
I must admit that the penalties appear to be out of date. For instance, $20 is the penalty for the offence of obstructing or intimidating someone or for wanton damage or disturbance. However, it is not necessary to open cemeteries up to competition to remedy this. I am advised that the cemeteries trust will not fall apart if this bill does not pass today. So, if there is a need to modernise operations and perhaps to improve environmental arrangements, we can do that. Meanwhile, we say no to this change.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hird ) adjourned to the next sitting.
Sitting suspended from 12.14 to 2.30 pm
Questions without notice
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is directed to the chair of the public accounts committee, Mr Quinlan. Mr Speaker, on 21 August the Chief Minister said he would refer to you for your consideration the possibility that a breach of privilege had occurred in the leaking of information given to the public accounts committee at an in-