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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2070 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

a very good process, it was honestly engaged in and, at the end of the day, there was a great outcome.

Sending this off to a committee will, as Ms Tucker quite rightly points out, put it in the public arena yet again, I have no quarrel with that-she is quite right. But I do not think we are going to have the attention to the regulations that we would have if we sat down at the round table and did it that way. I am urging the Assembly to not refer it to the committee-only because I believe there is a better process.

MS DUNDAS (5.58): Mr Speaker, I rise both as a member of this Assembly and as a member of the Community Services and Social Equity Committee, to which this motion is proposing the bill be sent. The committee is currently investigating the rights, interests and wellbeing of children and young people. We are also doing an inquiry on accommodation support services for homeless men and their accompanying children. I believe these issues are very pressing to the people of Canberra. From these committees, we can expect clear policy recommendations on how we, as an Assembly, can make the lives of Canberrans better.

With regard to this bill, I have outlined my concerns, which include opposition to national competition policy, the lack of regulations and the disallowable instrument regarding exhumation. A committee may provide an opportunity to debate the relative strengths and merits of national competition policy as it applies to cemeteries. This is an important debate. National competition policy has caused much anguish for many people since its introduction.

Maybe I am getting old and cynical because, following the committee inquiry, I believe that the Liberal Party and the Labor Party will still support national competition policy, even as it applies to cemeteries as the two old parties certainly have a strong track record of supporting this bad piece of legislation. Maybe ACT Labor has had a small break in supporting national competition policy, but they have certainly returned to the economic rationalist fold.

As I said in my earlier speech today, what is needed is an open and frank discussion about the issues of body disposal and memorialisation. I believe this debate will occur when the regulations are written, tabled by disallowable instrument, and the policy of the current government is then able to be debated. Until that time, we have a bill that sets up only a framework which we either support or oppose. Only government regulations will allow for a response of this Assembly and the community. That is unless we have an Assembly willing to oppose the bill entirely, and send a clear message to the government that this Assembly does not support the privatisation of cemeteries.

Maybe what is needed is an adjournment so we can find a better solution. That would allow members time to prepare amendments, consult with the community and have further debate about this issue with their constituents. It would also allow time for the government to prepare regulations. We could then see the regulations in draft form as we are considering this bill.

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