BENDIGO funeral directors are calling for a state government inquiry into the Bendigo Cemeteries Trust.
Directors from Mulqueen Family Funeral, Napier Park Funerals and Bendigo Funerals this week slammed a new pricing set to come into affect on Monday.
William Farmer Funeral Directors owner Andrew Hampton is acting as a spokesman for the funeral directors and claims the cost of grave sites in Greater Bendigo is set to rise by more than 40 per cent.
He said the price hike would force some people to opt for cremations.
“I’m sure the community will be alarmed that these fees are going up by 40 per cent,” Mr Hampton said.
“That’s a lot of money.
“We think this cemeteries trust is very inefficient compared with the other cemetery trusts operating in Victoria.”
Bendigo Cemeteries Trust chief executive Graham Fountain said he was “a bit lost” with Mr Hampton’s claims and accused him of quoting one figure out of a range of prices.
“He’s asserting that the prices will put pressure on bereaved families, but that’s just not true.
“That’s definitely not the case at White Hills where the prices are going down quite significantly.
“They’re pulling one element out of our price structure.
“I’m not hiding behind the fact that some fees have increased but you also have to look at other things such as the fact we will have the lowest cremation price in Victoria.”
Mr Fountain said there had already been a state-wide government inquiry into cemeteries.
“The report is with the minister,” he said.
But Mr Hampton argued the new pricing scheme could leave some families unable to afford graves. “It is not hard to see that many families will have difficulty in meeting these charges which bear such an alarming increase,” Mr Hampton said.
“There are already people struggling to pay for funerals, and this is going to make it a much bigger problem.
“In his original statement, Mr Fountain announced an increase of 18 per cent, however, we’ve done the sums and the truth is Mr Fountain was actually seeking to increase the cost of a grave at Bendigo Cemetery, for instance, by more than 50 per cent.”
Simon Mulqueen from Bendigo Funerals said the community wasn’t aware of the price changes so funeral directors decided to speak out.
“The community don’t face these prices until they face a death so they’re largely unaware,” he said. “That’s why we’re making a stand because we’re in a position to know about it and alert the public.”