Legislative Council: Thursday, June 16, 2022



Burial and Cremation (Interment Rights) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 2 June 2022.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (16:13): I rise to make some remarks in relation to this legislation that was first drafted by former Attorney-General Ms Vickie Chapman, I understand, in the middle of last year. It was introduced in this place by the Hon. Rob Lucas on 24 August 2021 but lapsed at the end of sittings. It has been reintroduced into this place by the new Attorney-General, and I understand it is identical in substance to last year's bill.

This bill was drafted to address particular issues faced by valid holders of interment rights who had difficulties enforcing their rights against a cemetery authority. The bill amends the Burial and Cremation Act 2013 to clarify that interment rights may be enforced against the relevant authority for the cemetery, regardless of when or by whom the interment right was issued and whether the authority was aware of it. The bill makes it an offence for an authority to fail to comply with its interment obligations and to remove cremated remains where they were interred in a cemetery in accordance with an interment right. I understand that there are some exceptions.

This bill arose following specific difficulties experienced by interment rights holders in the St Philip and St James church cemetery in Old Noarlunga. In that case, the new owners of the church and cemetery refused to honour interment rights issued by the Anglican Diocese, which had previously owned the church and cemetery. In some cases, rights holders were asked to repurchase the rights they already held at inflated prices. The Liberal Party supports the bill.

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: Mr President, I draw your attention to the state of the council.

A quorum having been formed:

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:17): I rise to support this bill on behalf of the Greens. This bill was introduced in the last parliament. At that time, my colleague the Hon. Robert Simms, who has carriage of this bill, spoke of the trauma suffered by those who find their interment rights not being honoured when remains are moved or interfered with.

Most cultures do have burial and cremation practices to allow people to grieve and to respect those who have passed. The Greens believe that those cultural practices need to be respected and protected. When buried or cremated remains are moved or removed for any reason, it can cause unnecessary and needless grief to those closest to the deceased.

This bill ensures that the interment rights holders have their rights protected. The public expects that once their loved one is buried or cremated, they are then at rest and free from disturbance. This bill addresses that issue by ensuring interment sites are obliged to honour the rights of the holders of valid interment rights.

Originally introduced to deal with the rising number of instances where churches were decommissioned and sold for other uses, this bill does prevent ambiguity moving forward regarding the rights of burial ground authorities and interment rights holders. While I understand the Hon. Robert Simms will potentially have some questions at the committee stage, the Greens support and commend this bill.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. R.B. Martin.