Loved ones burned up in mass cremations

FUNERAL directors are chasing ambulances for business from grieving families and conducting mass cremations, an investigation by The Courier-Mail can reveal.

In a remarkable move, Queensland Funeral Directors' Association head Anton Brown, has called for a formal inquiry into the industry, saying rogue operators are rife.

The Courier-Mail can today blow the lid on concerning industry practices that go far beyond the "coffin swapping" allegation that sparked calls for an inquiry earlier this month.

The State Government has said it is open to feedback, however it would not commit to an inquiry.Funeral directors are accepting minuscule government contracts to work as undertakers at emergencies in order to secure lucrative funerals, and some are driving bodies hundreds of kilometres in order to save money on cremations, a practice dubbed "cremation shopping".

Opposition shadow attorney-general David Janetzki says the Government is "sitting on its hands".

It follows the coffin swap scandal earlier this month that saw the body of 74-year-old Rockhampton woman Janice Cecilia Valigura removed from her $1700 coffin and placed in a pine box just hours before cremation. The funeral director has apologised for the mistake, and it is not suggested his business is involved in any of the other questionable practices revealed today.

The Funeral Directors' Association will meet with the Office of Fair Trading and Mr Janetzki this week to discuss how the industry can be finally be overhauled.

"Where there's smoke there's fire," Mr Brown said. "It's worthwhile having an investigation."

Public and government records show a series of controversial tactics are being used.

Three government undertaker contracts, obtained by The ­Courier-Mail, show three Queensland operators were handed contracts worth 1¢ for transporting a body to the local mortuary.

"The contract gives them all the details to be able to solicit families," Whitsundays Funerals director Jeff Boyle said.

A Justice spokesman said a "voluntary code of conduct", introduced in September 2013, prevented funeral directors from contacting victim's families.

chris.clarke@news.com.au



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