Page 1105 - Week 03 - Thursday, 26 February 2009

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MS BURCH (Brindabella) (3.28): Can I just say at the beginning, in response to Mr Coe’s comments, that death and burial is a matter that affects us all; it is something that comes to us all and our family and friends and it is something worthy of discussion. The members of this Assembly are elected by the community to make decisions that support and sustain the territory now and into the future. The exploration of alternative practices to cremation and standard cemeteries is necessary to ensure the ACT government continues to provide the facilities and services that our community desires and needs.

As part of considering the alternative practices that have already been discussed, the presence of a second crematorium also needs to be considered. As mentioned earlier, 70 per cent of Canberrans currently choose to be cremated. With only one crematorium in town, this is something that we need to think about in our future planning. The environmental issues with crematoria are well known and are generally considered not to be significant. Work is being done in Great Britain, as outlined earlier, on alternative processes, which is something that we can consider and which should be brought up in the review and the study being undertaken over the immediate future.

Canberra’s views on the nature and types of burials that our community prefers are part of the consultation on the proposed southside cemetery. This public consultation, which has already begun, I understand, will comprise information and fact sheet opportunities at public libraries and shopfronts and surveys of the community, both hard copy and online. I understand a telephone survey of members of the community will also be undertaken and there will be stakeholder meetings and briefings. I have spoken to a number of southside community groups and they have already been contacted about this process, so it is good to know that it is underway.

Canberrans will be asked to comment on a number of broad themes as well as more detailed questions. Some of the broad areas they will be asked to comment on include whether they support the establishment of a southern cemetery, whether they support the establishment of a cemetery at the proposed site, whether they agree on the inclusion of a second crematorium on the site, and whether they support reserving at least part of that site for natural burials.

As we progress on our public consultation on the proposed southern cemetery site and further research is undertaken into alternative practices around the world, the ACT community will move towards improved services and facilities. This government fully understands the importance of the investigation into alternative practices and will continue to investigate and consult fully on the scope of options so that we as a government and community are best able to meet the needs, the desires and the concerns of our community.

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: The discussion is concluded.

Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2009

Debate resumed.

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