Proposed Cemetery Bill may bury local councils

CEMETERIES could prove a financial burden for local councils with proposed legislation calling for changes in the way they are administered.

If the proposed Bill passes unchanged, councils would have to provide the State Government with plans of each cemetery in their area, set up a publicly accessible cemetery register, and make sure they provide the Government with any changes to information within 14 days.

Councils would suffer heavy fines for non-compliance.

Mid Murray council chief executive officer Russel Peate said while the draft Burial and Cremation Bill 2012 looked good on paper, implementing the changes could prove an administrative and practical nightmare.

“We will have to supply a central register,” he said.

“On face value it looks good but it is not cost effective for council to do that.

“It would be a help to have funding and resources supplied.”

Mr Peate said he was concerned about having to supply a plan of each cemetery to the Government as most cemetery plans were on large sheets of paper and would need to be put into a format that could be easily lodged.

“We have 32 cemeteries (in the council area), most of which are small,” he said.

“It will take time and effort and if we have to comply it will cost us a lot.”

Mr Peate said Tungkillo cemetery plans were on see-through sheets of paper which needed to be layered to determine where people were buried while some of Mannum cemetery’s plans were on an old board where many of the oldest names were unreadable.

The maximum fine for not supplying a cemetery plan would cost councils up to $5000 for each plan withheld, with fines of up to $10,000 proposed for not complying with other regulations.