Chapter 7
Reform options: a modern approach to cemetery management


7.107In chapters 5 and 6, we considered the two major sets of policy issues that during our analysis and preliminary consultation:

7.108The challenge is providing a framework for the provision and management of cemeteries that creates clear responsibilities, yet is flexible enough to respond to the different community needs of a diverse country, both now and in the future. The options presented above seek to achieve the appropriate combination of community responsiveness and robust management structures. We invite public submissions on all elements of these proposals, and in particular, the areas identified in questions below.

Consultation questions

Q1 Would you support opening the provision of cemeteries up to independent providers, such as those providing cemeteries for “eco” or “natural burials”, complementing the public cemeteries provided by local authorities?
Q2 If so, do you think those establishing independent cemeteries should be limited to registered charities? Should independent cemeteries be allowed to make a profit?
Q3 Should it be lawful for someone to be buried on private land, provided the necessary consents have been obtained?
Q4 Where practically possible, should local authorities be required to provide separate burial areas within public cemeteries for groups with specific religious or cultural burial requirements?
Q5 Do you think the law should establish minimum standards for the maintenance of cemeteries?
Q6 Do you think there should be stronger legal provisions for the protection of historic cemeteries and grave sites?

7.109 In addition to these high-level questions, we also pose the following questions for more detailed consideration by those who are interested:

(a) Do you agree that denominational burial grounds should be transitioned to the framework for independent cemeteries?
(b) Do you agree that the management of community cemeteries should be overseen by local authorities rather than by central government, including giving them the power to appoint trustees?
(c) Do you agree that the underlying title of community cemeteries should be vested in either the local authority or the registered charitable trust appointed to manage the cemetery?
(d) Do you agree that the Environment Court, rather than the Minister of Health, should be able to approve the closure of cemeteries or burial grounds or a change in use of the land?
(e) Should the local authority power to remove unsafe monuments within public cemeteries override heritage protection provisions in the Historic Places Act?
(f) What matters should be included as statutory default provisions for the sale of a burial plot?
(g) What matters should be addressed in a model contract for sale of a plot?
(h) At this point we are not proposing additional measures to address the desecration of graves. In your view are the current provisions adequate?
(i) What information and record-keeping obligations do you consider should apply to cemetery managers?