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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4377 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Mr Speaker, as prophesied by Mr Wood three days ago, this bill has risen again. Today, I have the pleasure to bring to the Assembly the Cemeteries and Crematoria Bill 2002 (No 2). The revisions address concerns raised during previous discussions of the bill in the Assembly, amendments proposed by the Greens, and other concerns raised by Norwood Park, Canberra Cemeteries Trust and the department of anatomical pathology at the Canberra Hospital.

The Assembly has debated the need for perpetual tenure of graves. The bill has been revised to ensure perpetual tenure of graves by giving someone the right of burial or the right of interment of ashes which lasts forever. This is based on an amendment proposed by Ms Tucker that has been revised by the government to allow for withdrawal of perpetual tenure if the right of burial is not used within 60 years.

This revision is to avoid the problem which can occur if people prepurchase a right of burial and then do not use the site. In 2001, New South Wales had up to 30,000 unused grave sites in Sydney crown cemeteries as a result of this problem. The revised bill is proposing the same approach to dealing with perpetual tenure and unused burial rights, as in New South Wales.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety and the department of anatomical pathology at the Canberra Hospital suggested that the previous bill needed to be changed to specifically allow for foetuses to be buried or cremated. Under the previous bill, the definition of human remains included stillborn children but not foetuses.

Mr Speaker, it is appropriate that foetuses be treated separately to stillborn children and other human remains because in some cases, such as abortions, foetuses are disposed of as clinical waste, whereas in other cases, such as miscarriages, parents would prefer to have their foetuses buried or cremated. Therefore, revisions have been made to the bill to allow for the burial or cremation of foetuses without making it compulsory. The regulations will allow for individual cremation and burial of foetuses as well as group cremation of foetuses, as currently practised by the Canberra Hospital.

Norwood Park had concerns about the previous bill because the perpetual care trust did not necessarily meet all the elements of the new definition of a charity that the Commonwealth government will be adopting. Therefore, one of the revisions in the new bill is to clarify the charitable status of the perpetual care trust by adding the term "not for profit". This will help to ensure that the perpetual care trust will be defined as a charity and will be eligible for taxation concessions.

Ms Tucker drafted two amendments to the bill to deal with the composition of the cemeteries board. The first amendment increased the minimum size of the board to four members. The second amendment required the board to include at least four members who, in the minister's opinion, represent both the general community and religious denominations. The government accepts these amendments and they have been incorporated into the revised bill.

In previous discussion on the bill, Ms Dundas expressed concern about the practicality of the exhumation decisions of the Chief Health Officer being a disallowable instrument. The bill has been revised to remove the need for a decision of the Chief Health Officer to be a disallowable instrument and allows the Chief Health Officer to give permission,

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