The extent to which proposed changes to the law relating
to burial and cremation will affect the Dunedin City Council -
at a time when it is under pressure from ratepayers and Central
Government to control spending - is a worry, the council says.
The council yesterday gave its retrospective approval for a
submission made in December to the Law Commission on its
review of burial and cremation laws in New Zealand.
The deadline given for submissions meant the council would
not meet before it was due, so the submission was approved at
the time by Mayor Dave Cull and committee chairwoman and
chairman Crs Jinty MacTavish and David Benson-Pope.
Bringing cemetery land under the Resource Management Act and
opening up the sector to independent operators, allowing for
burial of relatives on farm land (subject to consent),
requiring cemeteries to be maintained to a minimum standard
and transferring responsibility for licensing crematoriums
from the Government are some of the proposals that have
implications for local authorities.
The council's submission supported some of the proposed
changes, with appropriate controls, but raised concerns about
the opening up of cemetery provision to private operators and
the additional responsibilities that would impose on the
It said that would result in more cemeteries in a variety of
locations, and increase the associated environmental and
public health risks.
The council would have to identify acceptable sites for
cemeteries, process consents, oversee non-council sites,
monitor for environmental and health issues, and ensure
proper records were kept.
Councillors approved the submission.
Cr Benson-Pope said he had ''real issues'' with the proposals
because they moved in a direction that allowed the private
sector to cherry-pick aspects of the cemetery service and
leave the council to pick up the expensive facets.
Mr Cull agreed and said he would have thought it should be
for communities to set maintenance standards in their own
communities, and not the Government.
Cr Lee Vandervis said he could not approve the submission
because of the retrospective nature of approval, and asked
that a message be sent to the Government and the Law
Commission that they were setting unreasonably short time
frames for submissions.
He suggested not bothering making submissions at all on those
cases, but Mr Cull said that might be precisely what the
Government wanted - the ability to say a lack of submissions
meant no-one cared.