Last chance for fu­neral opin­ions

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by John An­der­sen john. an­der­sen@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

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.

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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.

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