The Burial and Cremation Act 2002
The Tasmanian Government is reviewing the current cemeteries legislation in response to community concerns about the sale of properties containing cemeteries.
The focus of the change will be on preserving, and, where appropriate, strengthening both the rights of community members and the obligations on cemetery managers.
The Government is committed to ensuring:
- the continued appropriate, safe and responsible management of cemeteries;
- the honouring of exclusive burial rights; and
- continued public access for relatives and friends of the deceased.
The draft Burial and Cremation Amendment Bill 2018 was released for public consultation in September 2018. The Bill proposed key changes to the Burial and Cremation Act 2002 to address community concerns about the future management of cemeteries.
Submissions have now closed and the Government is considering the feedback provided.
The Bill has been modified to address key concerns raised through the public consultation process.
Through the public consultation process concerns were raised that three of the changes proposed in the draft Bill could increase costs for cemetery managers, and result in the need to increase prices charged for burials. These were:
- the potential shift in responsibility from family to cemetery managers for upkeep of vaults, graves and monuments;
- the 100 year time period from last interment before a cemetery manager could apply to close a cemetery; and
- the introduction of five yearly audits.
These concerns have been addressed in the final Bill by:
- making it clear that the requirement for cemetery managers to maintain the cemetery, does not apply to vaults, graves or monuments, unless there is an agreement in place for this (as is the case under the existing legislation);
- removing the proposed five yearly audit, but the Regulator will be able to request an audit at any time. This is a shift towards a more risk-based approach, focused on addressing non-compliance;
- changing the proposed closure period from 100 to 50 years since the last interment. However, cemetery managers will not be able to remove tombstones or exhume bodies for at least 100 years since the last interment. Exceptions to the 100 year period may be applied for, but community and descendant support would be a key consideration for the Regulator in deciding whether or not to approve a shorter time period.
60 written submissions were received and these are available to view and download for your information.
Burial and Cremation Amendment Bill 2018
The final Burial and Cremation Amendment Bill 2018 proposes a number of changes to strengthen the regulatory framework for cemeteries. This includes a stronger sale and transfer process, and changes to improve compliance and enforcement and increase protection of human remains and gravesites. The Bill also establishes the Regulator role, which will continue to be the Director of Local Government at this time.
Parliament will consider the Bill in November 2018.
More changes may be introduced in 2019 to address other issues raised in the review process. Further consultation will occur at that time.
Sale and transfer process for cemeteries
Key changes to the sale and transfer process for cemeteries proposed under the Bill include:
- requiring that new cemetery managers will need to be body corporates with perpetual succession and approved by the Regulator, so that cemeteries can only be purchased by people suited to being cemetery managers; and
- a seller will have to give public notice of their intention to sell a cemetery, and get a certificate of compliance from the Regulator before selling.
Compliance and enforcement of the Burial and Cremation Act
Key changes to the compliance and enforcement of the Act proposed under the Bill include:
- increasing maximum penalties for offences and for non-compliance with key cemetery management responsibilities;
- new penalties for not meeting the requirements of the new sale and transfer processes; and
- the Regulator will be able to ask cemetery managers for evidence of compliance, and require cemetery managers to undertake compliance audits.
Closure of cemeteries
Key changes to the closure of cemeteries proposed under the Bill include:
- the length of time from the last burial before a cemetery can be closed will increase from the current 30 years to 50 years;
- a cemetery manager will need to get approval from the Regulator to close a cemetery;
- cemetery managers will not be able to remove tombstones or exhume bodies for at least 100 years since the last burial (except in exceptional circumstances); and
- the Regulator will be able to put conditions on the closure of a cemetery, for example, the protection of war veteran graves.
Resources and related information for public consultation - September and October 2018
For more information about the Review, contact the Local Government Division: