NSW buried under funeral reviews

Article published 25 February 2020

NSW buried under funeral reviews

FOR reasons only known to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), an investigation of the funeral industry was split up into (1) a review of cemeteries and crematoria and (2) a review of “the funeral industry more broadly”.

Part 1 has now reached the stage of an interim report, to be followed by further investigations, a draft report, a public hearing and, finally in October this year, a final report.

However, you would think part 1 would need to be finished before IPART started on part 2, the funeral industry as a whole. Part 1 would feed into part 2, you would think, but no. Part 2 has now started and CPSA has met with IPART for initial consultation.

But to the interim recommendations for cemeteries and crematoria:

Cemetery operators should be required to publish itemised prices for interment services using consistent terminology and the NSW Government should set up a website to allow people to compare prices at all cemeteries in NSW.

Sounds good and nothing wrong with that, but some 70 per cent of funerals in NSW involve cremation and are purchased as a package from a funeral director, not a crematorium. Funeral directors are already required to publish their pricing of the various components of funerals they sell. Aren’t we doubling up here?

The NSW Government should be responsible for locating and purchasing land for new cemeteries in Sydney, and for working with local councils to identify land for new cemeteries outside Sydney.

Apparently, Sydney requires 700 hectares of new burial grounds. Leave this to the market and prices of burials will skyrocket. Only billionaires and their pets will be able to afford to be buried. That’s why the NSW Government needs to step in and THE VOICE understands yet another review (of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2013) will look at this.

Cemetery operators should be required to set aside funds that can only be used to maintain a cemetery once it is closed to new interments. Larger cemetery operators must have this fund independently managed.

In NSW, cemeteries sell graves in perpetuity without charging a grave maintenance fee in perpetuity. So a cemetery quickly runs out of money as soon as it closes for new interments and the place goes to rack and ruin. THE VOICE understands the review of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2013 will also look at this issue.

Cemetery operators should provide a Plain English statement of terms and conditions for interment rights, including a clear statement on the type of tenure being purchased and the interment right holder’s obligations for future maintenance to be provided.

This means that if you want a perpetual grave or place to bury ashes, you’ll be paying ongoing fees. If you buy a renewable grave or spot, you don’t.

THE VOICE will keep readers up to date on the progress of this veritable avalanche of funeral reviews.

 

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