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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 676 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

makes explicit that burials are to be permanent-that is, the right of burial forever-and ensures that the two classes of citizen concept cannot be extended to the maintenance of plots.

It has been suggested that in the somewhat distant future we may find ourselves suffering from a shortage of land suitable for burials. Given the growing trend towards cremation and the significantly less land that is necessary even at crematoria, this is unlikely to confront us in the short term. If we are, however, to consider more flexible burial regimes then it would be appropriate to consider the matter more closely, perhaps through a committee, before amending the act.

The notion of a cemeteries board in the previous bill put the focus squarely on financial management. While that is undoubtedly essential, it also seems desirable that some positions be reserved for community and religious representation. Given that there are quite a range of religions with divergent views on burial and a growing number of non-religious yet spiritually-minded people in our society, reserving four of the maximum of 12 positions on the board for such representatives-who may simultaneously be accountants and gardeners, of course-is a reasonable result.

At the early stage of the debate we were also seeking to amend the previous bill to ensure that public cemeteries and any public crematoria remained in public hands. We have agreed with government that the Assembly should have notice and oversight of any proposed disallowable transfer of ownership.

Finally, I note that the government has picked up on key concerns of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee report and I commend it for those adjustments.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Heritage and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.15): Mr Speaker, this is all a bit overwhelming but I think we are there.

Ms Tucker: It has been a while, hasn't it. Ros doesn't like it but we are going to get there.

MR WOOD: Ms Tucker, it has been quite a while.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Wood, do you have a revised EM that you wish to table?

MR WOOD: Yes. I table the revised explanatory statement and the amendments that have been circulated.

I have been trying to think of the right line. We had some smart lines from Mr Cornwell and others last year; we had a couple of goes at this.

Mr Cornwell: A long time a-dying.

MR WOOD: Yes. This bill has aged somewhat but now we are almost there.

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