A Griffith law firm has slammed council’s blanket prohibition of ornaments at the city’s cemetery, labelling its notices “misleading” and casting further doubt on the legality of the ban.
A number of Griffith families were outraged after finding the notices under plaques at the city’s cemetery informing them ornamentation and embellishments must be removed, or else staff would take them away.
But Griffith law firm Capello Rowe Lawyers has questioned council’s blanket ban, saying the many ornaments are allowed under legislation so long as they are not fragile or dangerous.
In legal advice provided to The Area News Capello Rowe said council’s initial suggestion all ceramic or glass objects, metal objects or items extending beyond the boundaries of the grave were banned, under the Crown Lands Act (General Reserves) by-law 2006, was misleading.
Instead they said the ban was limited by the fragility of the items and whether they posed a risk to health and safety. “Accordingly, if the items in question are not fragile, breakable or likely to cause a risk to health or safety, then they are not banned,” the firm advised.
The firm took further aim at council’s suggestion all items it had listed on the notice were prohibited arguing a number of these were only banned if a specific direction from council was given, casting doubt on council’s claim its hands were tied in the matter.
“We are of the view that the notices provided by the council are misleading,” the firm advised.
"[r]eading the notice, one could mistakenly believe that any “vase, statuette, jar, bottle or other item of embellishment” must be removed.”
Cappello Rowe advised council’s discretion in making such a direction can be reviewed.
On Thursday council advised it had amended the notices, asking families now contact cemetery staff to confirm suitability of items placed on graves.
Council said it was still its position to work with the community to remove excessive embellishments. “[h]owever Council has amended the notice which encourages consultation with the cemetery staff,” director of infrastructure and operations Phil King said. The change is the latest development in a complex legal debate following the original notices, council was previously victorious in defending its right to make rules.