A PROPOSAL that would have seen cemetery fees at Remembrance Parks Central Victoria sites increase by up to 300 per cent has been abandoned.
The controversial plan was formulated by RPCV as part of a business case it believed would bring the organisation's fee structure in line with Class A cemeteries, "literally following a formula of the department".
The proposal had attracted strong criticism from local funeral directors, with Bendigo Funerals owner Simon Mulqueen describing the plan as "draconian".
In an embarrassing backdown, a statement posted online on Thursday confirmed prices would now only increase by an amount in line with the Consumer Price Index, in line with government advice.
Mr Mulqueen said he welcomed the decision and described it as a win for the community that RPCV had seen the light and backed away from its plans.
"It's a pity it has taken so long but in my view it is a great step forward for the community in terms of not having to suffer huge price increases," he said.
"The RPCV put people through angst when it didn't need to and I am pleased they have seen the error of its ways."
The proposal was also raised last week in state parliament by Nationals leader Peter Walsh.
Mr Walsh asked health minister Martin Foley why Remembrance Parks Central Victoria was not obliged to consult with the purchasers of burial plots, funeral directors and stonemasons before proposing increases.
In response, Mr Foley said no decision had been made on the proposal.
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A state government spokesperson said the government had not received a proposal from RPCV regarding fee increases.
The statement from RPCV also says it is holding individual meetings to discuss submissions as it further evaluates information.
"RPCV would also like to clarify that fees and charges will only be increasing by the CPI amount advised by the Department of Health from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023," the statement read.
"RPCV will continue to engage with the community, stakeholders and industry partners over the coming months to refine the development of new products and services to promote more choice in end-of-life services."
The RPCV statement also thanked community members, stakeholders and industry partners for feedback it had received on the draft proposal.
A relieved Mr Mulqueen said funeral directors had received strong feedback from community members who objected to the proposed fee rises and were worried they wouldn't be able to afford the new prices.
"It is a great show of community force that has resulted in RPCV backing away from their proposed increases," he said.
"We had huge feedback from the community.
"There was a lot of concern, worry and apprehension in the community.
"People were coming forward to us and there was a lot of appreciation we had raised the issue so the community was made aware.
"If we hadn't have raised the matter it might have happened automatically, which would have been absolutely devastating."
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