Last chance for funeral opinions
A STATE Government committee preparing a report into funeral practices could pave the way for burials to happen in unmarked graves in bush locations.
Instead of being marked by a headstone, the grass would be returned and the position of the vertical graves would be marked by GPS and recorded in local government data banks. Animals such as cattle, sheep and kangaroos would graze overhead.
Welcome to the brave new world of the low carbon footprint burial.
Member f or t he Bribie Island-based seat of Pumicestone, Carryn Sullivan, is chairwoman of the State Government’s Environment Resources Committee which is preparing a report into the f uneral i ndustry and i t s practices.
She said 27,000 people died in Queensland last year and that most had to undergo some sort of funeral rite.
Ms Sullivan said that as well as looking at the way people were buried, the committee was also examining a l t e r n a t i v e s t o t h e t r a - ditional funeral practices of horizontal burial and cremation. She said the vertical burial of bodies in shafts on private pasture lands could be seen as a better environmental alternative to horizontal internment.
She said it was also cheaper and that in some ‘‘ green’’ cemeteries there were no headstones.
‘‘ You can be buried upright and the grass cap is put back over the opening and the position of t he grave i s marked on a GPS,’’ she said.
She said this could mean that owners of cattle stations or farms could sell land for vertical burials.
‘‘ We want to provide people with more options and we want the funeral industry to take up more options,’’ she said.
Ms Sullivan said land availability for cemeteries was becoming a major issue for l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t s , e s - pecially those in large metropolitan areas.
She said the committee was also l ooking at environmental aspects of burial and cremation, especially in relation to bodies which had been through palliative care and contained high levels of morphine.
‘‘ Morphine doesn’t down,’’ she said.
She said the committee wanted to hear about options for funerals such as embalming, and aquamation – a process that involves liquefying bodily remains.
Ms Sullivan said the funeral industry was secretive about its practices and that there needed to be more disclosure about costs and the provision of cheaper alternatives.
She said the option of renta-coffins would also be considered and that in the case of renting, the body would be removed before burial or cremation.
Ms Sullivan said few people were aware that they could make their own coffins or make coffins for their loved ones.
‘‘ This is an inquiry into options into burial and land management. We aren’t stating you can’t be buried. We just want to give you options and we want the funeral industry to reduce its carbon footprint,’’ she said.
Submissions for the report close on April 20.