The government department in charge of coronial post-mortem examinations has no plans to expand autopsy services to the Riverina.
Coronial autopsies can only be performed in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, but grieving rural families, including those from Leeton, have long called for autopsies to be performed at Wagga Base Hospital to expedite the return of bodies.
NSW Health Pathology executive director of forensic and analytical science Michael Symonds said in a statement that "highly specialised" coronial post-mortems wouldn't be performed in other locations.
The police announcement that a post-mortem examination, on remains believed to be those of Allecha Boyd, will be carried out in Newcastle prompted fresh questions around autopsies for Riverina residents.
A NSW Department of Communities and Justice spokesman said post-mortem examinations related to police investigations can take place in any of the state's three forensic medicine facilities, with admissions based on catchment areas aligned with Police Area Commands.
State member for Wagga Joe McGirr said he would continue pushing to have less complex post-mortem examinations done at Wagga Base, to limit the "trauma of delay and sending a loved one's body away".
"I'd like to see doctors here trained at least to undertake a preliminary examination so that where it's not needed, bodies don't have to go to Newcastle," Dr McGirr said.
"Complex criminal matters and complex situations will need to go for specialist assessment and it's likely that will always be the case."
Member for Murray Helen Dalton has also pushed for autopsies to be carried out in the region.
A coronial task force has been investigating autopsy delays since July 2019, which has resulted in changes including amendments to the NSW Coroners Act to "remove red tape" and improve the process for rural families.
"They've also done work looking at their procedures in Newcastle and making sure that the delays are limited," Dr McGirr said.
"And the feedback I've had [from the community] is that it's improved. But I'd like to have much more improvement."
MIA man Greg Adamson said he faced a dilemma over the potential autopsy of a close family member in 2017 and believes it would bring "comfort" to rural families to have post-mortems performed closer to home.
"There appeared to be a lack of empathy for rural people who were forced to go to Sydney for services that can't be provided in the bush," he said.
Nationals MLC Wes Fang said the issue of rural autopsies had been flagged with the party numerous times.
"There is absolutely a will from the government to see what we can do in this space but we are limited by manpower and issues like the pandemic have exacerbated this," he said.
"It's not a simple issue of turning on autopsies, you need the staff to be able to do them and there's an absolute shortage of that."
Mr Symonds said the NSW Health Pathology forensic medicine triage service helps prevent the unnecessary transportation of people who have died of natural causes from rural or regional locations into its facilities.
"In 2019/20, 792 deceased people, whose deaths were initially referred to the Coroner, did not need to be transported to a Forensic Medicine facility because of improvements in the case triage process," he said.