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NSW Labor to oppose Government’s 25-year grave law

The NSW Labor Opposition has confirmed it will oppose the O’Farrell Government’s controversial cemeteries Bill to open up and reuse grave sites after 25 years – which is due for a vote in the Upper House tomorrow.

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Steve Whan said Premier Barry O’Farrell should pull the Bill from consideration because it clearly lacked community support.

·         “A Christian of poor means who cannot afford to maintain a gravesite may find that after 25 years granny gets moved.” Nationals Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser in Parliament last week.

·         “No-one knew they were going to turf out bodies after 25 years. They did not tell us that.” Source in the Coalition party room reported last week.

“There is great community disquiet about this Bill,” Mr Whan said today.

“This idea from the O’Farrell Government that graves in public cemeteries come with renewable 25 year tenure – contingent on descendants continuing to pay fees – has been met with complete surprise by most members of the public – yet the Upper House may vote it through tomorrow.

“Until Labor explained it to them last week, most Liberal and National MPs didn’t understand what this Bill meant – so how could the public know?

“The Premier has never explained to the public why he believes renewable 25-year plots are a good idea.

“The Premier and Minister Katrina Hodgkinson forced through a Lower House vote on the measure last Wednesday without fully explaining its implications – and 27 Coalition MPs abstained.

“This was an unprecedented revolt by Coalition MPs.

“Barry O’Farrell has mishandled a deeply sensitive and personal issue. We are talking about people’s loved ones.

“Labor voted against the measure in the Lower House and will do so again in the Upper House on Wednesday.

“Every Liberal and National MP who voted for 25 year burial plots in the Lower House needs to explain their decision to local constituents.”