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National tried to block approach to body-snatching

Hon Jim Anderton

 

Progressive Leader

7 March 2008
Media Statement

National tried to block fresh approach to body-snatching

The National Party tried to get in the way of efforts to fix the law around bodies being removed without consent and thinks the issues can be fixed with pixie dust, Progressive leader Jim Anderton said today.

As Wigram MP, Jim Anderton has been helping the family of constituent James Takamore, who was buried against the wishes of his wife.

Jim Anderton is very concerned that the case of Mr Takamore has dragged on, and that new cases are occurring. He asked the Minister of Justice to refer this matter to the Law Commission to clarify the law itself.

“National MP John Hayes has issued a news release recently announcing ‘The existing law is more than adequate.’

“But he is wrong. Procedures around what happens to a person after they die need to be tightened up. And the established protocol for dealing with bodies where cultural factors are relevant needs to be better known and understood. The experience of bodies being taken appears to be far too frequent and it is extraordinarily upsetting to families at an extremely sensitive time.

“The law is clear that it is up to the executor of a will to decide what happens to a body and in the absence of a will, it’s up to the next of kin. It can get complicated when there is a dispute within a family, but I am not convinced that these cases are happening where there are disputes between people with fair rival claims to decide.

“I would also like to see tougher procedures to ensure a body is not finally disposed of without consent. For example, someone should have to sign a declaration asserting they are lawfully entitled to authorise the disposal of a body. And anyone who makes a declaration without authority should face legal consequences.

“But when I suggested changes, National’s John Hayes issued a news release arguing all that was needed is for the parties to talk to each other and that tougher new laws would not be necessary and would in fact be ‘politically correct humbug’.

“National’s hands-off attitude to everything would mean more body-taking. It shows National will say anything, without ever taking the trouble to think through its position,” Jim Anderton said.

 
ends

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