Page 1104 - Week 03 - Thursday, 26 February 2009

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However, motions like this make me ask the question: are the Greens really up to it? Did the people of Canberra who voted Green really expect or want these priorities to get up in the Assembly? This MPI is a return to the Greens’ ideas of old, which were somewhat loopy. Investigating alternatives to cremation and standard cemeteries is not a matter of public importance at this time.

In conclusion, I do not want to detract from the good people that serve our community so honourably by working in difficult professions, people such as undertakers, funeral organisers, managers of cemeteries and crematoria, those in burial services and those running other death-related ceremonies.

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (3.24): I guess I would first have to disagree with the sentiments expressed by Mr Coe. I think most people would find the manner of their death, final resting place—whichever words we want to use—of considerable importance to them, even if not to Mr Coe. I think you would find that most people in Canberra would find this a matter of importance. I can certainly say that since the article about it was published in the Canberra Times, I have had a lot of feedback personally from people that it is a subject that is quite interesting to them. I guess I am a little bit older than Mr Coe, and that is possibly why it is of more interest to me. Continuing further with the comments Mr Coe made, possibly the reason that people find this Assembly somewhat less interesting than it could be is the fact that some of the debates we have just bang on and on and on about the same thing without coming to a conclusion.

I will not speak at a great length about the actual issue here, because the two previous speakers have spoken very well on the subject. I obviously agree with Ms Bresnan’s speech, and I am very pleased to find that the government has an open mind on this very important subject. As I said, death and burial is a very sensitive and important issue, and there is no reason why cemeteries should not be pleasant places to be at. In fact, sitting here, I was remembering that, when I was a child, my family used to go down to what is now and was then, of course, the Woden cemetery for picnics of a weekend, because it was one place in the dry Canberra environment which had beautiful trees and which was watered. It was and still is a lovely place to go. I would really hope that, whatever new cemetery is created for Canberra, it also becomes a beautiful place to go. The one in Woden is a very formal cemetery, and I hope that we would look at having less formal, more natural alternatives for anything that we will do.

On the subject of the amount of public interest that I have found in this issue, I would just like to mention that I am planning to host a forum at the Assembly about issues relating to this and to invite a number of speakers from other areas who have got more experience in it than us.

I would like to commend this issue to the Assembly. It is a very important issue for all of us, one we will all have to face, and one where it is important that we have the full range of choices open to us and that we have enough public discussion in advance so people can make informed choices about what they would like for themselves and their loved ones.

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