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War veterans’ graves dilemma

March 6, 2015

In four years of “Grumpy in Unley”, this is by far the most difficult and contentious issue I have ever had to tackle…and it’s doubtless going to raise some hackles.

But here goes…

Amid all the distressing public discussion about the delicate and emotive policy  of Centennial Park Cemeter’s policy for the reuse of grave-sites, one major issue has been over-looked. That is that the term of  contracts between families and Centennial Park have ALWAYS stated quite clearly that there is a 50-year expiration clause. No ifs and buts. If you enter into a legal contract, then, sadly, it is your family’s choice, and to call for a revocation of the arrangement for war veterans alone is unfair and unsustainable. Applied to all graves it will mean the  closure of the facility with all the consequent problems long-timefor the community as a whole.

This  contentious renewal clause relates to ALL sites, regardless of whether or not it is for a war veteran. If you want to retain the site, you can renew, but it comes at a cost.

As a former member of the board of Centennial Park  I can tell you  that there has always been discussion about the need to  ensure that the joint facility between  the owners, Unley and Mitcham Councils, does not run out of space.  With that in mind, adjoining properties have been acquired when they come on the market. But there is a finite amount of such land available, and the non-uptake of licences, and the reuse of the ground, is a major factor in ensuring the cemetery’s long-term future.

I know that this issue will continue to be a matter of emotive debate, just as long as the media seizes on it as headline fodder. And I  have no doubt that the real but unpalatable facts will receive scant acknowledgement.

When it comes to headlines, anything goes, including the facts. And the media has no compunction about  scare-mongering.

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