• Groundswell of opposition to Anglican plan should prompt Liberals to act
• Families heartbroken that their loved one’s resting places will be sold off
• Tasmanian Burials and Cremations Act provides no protection
Premier Hodgman, the Attorney-General and the Local Government Minister can no longer ignore the growing tide of opposition to the Anglican Diocese plan to sell off sacred churches and cemeteries across Tasmania.
Labor Member for Lyons Jen Butler said as Tasmanian families across the state faced the imminent possibility of seeing their relative’s graves sold, Premier Hodgman needed to step in and ensure mooted legal protections were put in place urgently.
Ms Butler said since the Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein had handballed responsibility for the protection of churches and cemeteries to Attorney-General Elise Archer, the Liberals had simply failed to act or listen to the community.
“Ms Archer has said the government is looking at introducing laws this year to ensure exclusive burial rights are honoured and families can continue to have public access but the fact is the clock is ticking,” Ms Butler said.
“The current Burials and Cremations Act is deficient and draconian and that’s only been exposed by the plans of the Anglican Church to sell off 76 churches and grave yards so it can meet its obligations of the national redress scheme.
“Tasmanians can have absolutely no confidence in Ms Archer or Mr Gutwein taking responsibility and acting so it is time for Premier Hodgman to show some leadership on this issue which will have heartbreaking consequences for families.
“A review of the Burials and Cremation Act is long overdue and the only solution is to grant presumptive internment perpetuity rights to all gravesites across our state.
“I have spoken to hundreds of community members who are distressed and upset and don’t want their local churches and cemeteries sold.
“Frankly, the sale of 76 churches and grave yards in Tasmania is an attack on rural communities and is in appalling taste.
“At the same time communities are angered that the sale of their grave yards and churches will raise more than what is required to meet the obligations of the redress scheme.
“It’s anticipated the sale of these Anglican Churches and grave yards across Tasmania will raise close to $20 million, exceeding the $8 million it requires under its obligation to the redress scheme.”
Jen Butler MP Labor Member for Lyons