The NSW Labor Opposition has demanded Premier Barry O’Farrell personally explain controversial cemetery reforms that would allow burial plots to be leased out for 10, 25 or 99 years – and then opened up for reuse.
This week, the Liberal Government passed a Bill in the Lower House allowing for the renewable use of graves and different criteria for different religious faiths – but was embarrassed when only 40 Coalition MPs voted for the measure while the rest abstained.
The controversial Bill was passed by the lowest numerical vote since the last election – with the support of less than half the chamber’s 93 members.
“A Christian of poor means who cannot afford to maintain a gravesite may find that after 25 years granny gets moved.” Coffs Harbour National Party MP Andrew Fraser who voted for the measure.
“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 today.
Labor voted against the measure.
Shadow Minister for Resources and Primary Industries Steve Whan said the Premier and Minister Katrina Hodgkinson had blindsided Coalition MPs by forcing a vote on the measure on Wednesday night without fully explaining its implications.
“This legislation from the O’Farrell Government has far-reaching consequences beyond the grave,” Mr Whan said.
“Premier Barry O’Farrell needs to explain to the community why he believes 25-year burial plots are a good idea and why this legislation gets the balance right.
“The unprecedented revolt by Coalition MPs shows they had had no confidence at all in the Premier and Minister’s carriage of what is a deeply sensitive and personal issue.
“What we saw this week was a massive vote of no-confidence that is unprecedented in recent Parliamentary history.
“Premier O’Farrell clearly has a huge problem on his hands with a party room leaking like a sieve at being asked to pass legislation they did not understand.”