Interview with CEO of Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park

ABC Interview with George Passas

Monday, 15 August 2011

transcript of George Passas‘ interview on James Valentine’s program.

Valentine interviews George Passas, CEO, Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park Trust, to discuss regulations and studies surrounding the issue of burial in Sydney.
Valentine asks what Passas’ role means to him.

Passas says it the ‘purest form of customer service that you can get on the planet’, and that he rarely receives complaints. Passas says in his role as chief administrator, he gets high profile issues coming from local members of parliament but that at the ‘grass roots level, it is close to the bone’.

Valentine asks who runs the cemeteries and crematoria of NSW.

Passas says that there is a tripartheid organisation in Sydney, with Crown Lands trusts, local councils and private sector owners (who run cemeteries for shareholder return).

Valentine asks what happens to old disused sites like the the Gore Hill Cemetery as the city grows.

Passas says the State Govt is dealing with the Right to Bury, which is a burial licence in perpetuity.

Passes says that Cemetery operates ‘are loathe to touch’ old grave sites because they are legally not entitled to.

Passas says that an advisory committee to the State Govt is currently grappling with the issue of purchasing grave sites in perpetuity or on a timed basis. Passas says that new laws cannot be applied retrospectively.

Valentine says the State Govt has moved grave sites before, including at Central Station and Town Hall Station.

Passas said moving Grave sites is possible, and that we are at the point where population pressures are influencing grave sites.

Talkback Caller James asked if people may be buried vertically. Passas says that honeycombing, a vertical burial practice, is being used in Vic.

Valentine asks what impact Cremation is having.

Passas says that the figures for Cremation are 70:30, but that asian cultures tend to buy entire plots to house ashes, meaning not much space is saved.

Passas says that Cemetery trusts must deal with sensitive cultural issues.

Passas says that the State Govt has been debating the issue of ‘renewable tenure’ since 2005.

Talkback Caller Grants asks how to sell his father’s unused plot.

Passas says that he needs to speak with Randwick City Council. 

Passas says that Cemeteries are being based outside cities, including the ‘terrific’ Catholic Cemeteries Board’s Kemp’s Creek site.

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