‘Injustice’: Husband’s fight over cemetery plot
Tony Gibbs wants his wife to rest easy but claims Cairns Council burial rules have made his mourning immeasurably worse.
Aboriginal artist Donna Gibbs lost her battle with cancer and was buried at Gordonvale cemetery in May.
Husband Tony Gibbs, 72, has been trying to buy an adjoining gravesite outright but claims council has deliberately prevented him from doing so.
Cairns Regional Council has denied the claims.
The dispute arose after Mr Gibbs received paperwork from council after he reserved
the site next to his late wife.
"The papers said it could be sold back to Council, so it stands to reason that it could be bought from them in the first place," Mr Gibbs said.
"This is a grave injustice, that is not a joke.
"I am still in mourning for my wife and this is the ultimate racism- we are being segregated."
Council charges $910 to reserve a plot and a further $1,020 internment fee upon burial.
Mr Gibbs argues that he wanted to pay for both upfront given his lack of living relatives in Cairns.
"I have no other family to take care of this," Mr Gibbs said.
"We have not been blessed with children."
However a council spokesman denied any allegation of racism and said the rules around plot ownership, not exclusive to Cairns, were dictated by costs that could extend beyond the current internment fee.
"Council can confirm that the burial site, which is next to his wife, has been reserved and confirmation was sent to the applicant on May 15," the spokesman said.
"Applicants cannot pay the full burial amount when they reserve their plot as the costs of a burial are unknown and depend on a range of factors.
"It is practice across all cemeteries, not just in Cairns, for there to be a reservation fee to secure the site and then a burial fee upon death.
"In other words, you can reserve a plot, however you cannot pre-pay for the actual burial.
"This is because there can be a considerable time gap between reserving a plot and the burial; the cost of a burial could be significantly different."
But Mr Gibbs said he just wanted to get his affairs in order so he and his wife could rest easy.
"I feel like we are being made an example of, this is the worst case scenario for us" Mr Gibbs said.
"She was my other half, it is not just till death do us part, it goes beyond that too."
Originally published as 'Injustice': Husband's fight over cemetery plot