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Australian and British veterans who were exposed to nuclear blasts are not eligible for the kind of gold card support that we have been debating in the Senate this morning, because their exposure was at the hands of an ally. Had they been bombed by imperial Japan or Nazi Germany, they would, as a right, be entitled to this support. They were bombed by the British government at the express invitation of the Australian government, and then we have hung them out to dry.” (Sen. Ludlam, W. Australia, 25 Feb. 2016) 

Australian servicemen, often clad only in shorts and t-shirts, were exposed to nuclear tests while the British scientists in charge looked on wearing protective full body suits.” (Australian Greens)

* 1892 veterans were exposed to radiation by British Nuclear Testing between 1952 and 1963, but a technicality stops them from getting the Gold Card health care other veterans over 70 receive.

* Nuclear veterans suffer a 23% greater chance of having cancer than the general population and an 18% greater chance of dying from cancer.
* In addition to cancers, nuclear veterans and their families have suffered birth defects and miscarriages, and other disorders such as anaemia and bronchial disease.
* Less than $30 m per year is a small price to pay for the health care they deserve in old age.
* The Greens support the case before the Australian Human Rights Commission on behalf of 290 veterans who claim their human rights were violated.
* The Australian government knew about the dangerous radiation that would be dispersed from British Nuclear Testing.
* We are running out of time to exercise our duty of care to these Australians.

Thursday, February 25, 2016
Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia—Co-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (11:37)

I want to confine my remarks to the amendment that I will move jointly with Senator Xenophon when we come to the committee stage, and that is about a cohort of Australian military veterans who have remained largely forgotten. I have spoken many times in the past of our atomic veterans who served in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings of 1945, having been posted there during the occupation of Japan in the immediate postwar period. I believe they will be caught by Senator Lambie’s amendment, so I do not propose to speak solely of them this morning. The particular cohort I refer to here were those veterans who were forced as a condition of their service to participate and witness the nuclear weapons bombings of Montebello Islands, Emu Field and Maralinga by our ally, the British government. They were exposed to neutron radiation and fallout and have suffered a lifetime of health conditions. I have pursued this under several different prime ministers and under governments Labor and Liberal, and the utter tragedy is that because they were bombed by an ally, not an enemy, they are not eligible for gold card health support. That is an extraordinary tragedy. They were exposed to radiation from nuclear weapons blasts—something that nobody should have to see. In wartime, it has only happened those two times, those infamous days of 6 and 9 August 1945. But those Australian and British veterans who were exposed to nuclear blasts are not eligible for the kind of gold card support that we have been debating in the Senate this morning, because their exposure was at the hands of an ally. Had they been bombed by imperial Japan or Nazi Germany, they would, as a right, be entitled to this support. They were bombed by the British government at the express invitation of the Australian government, and then we have hung them out to dry. 

The amendment is a simple one. It is identical in intent to an initiative that the Australian Greens launched during the 2013 election campaign. It does nothing more than to help these surviving veterans and their families, who have been cursed with the long-term, intergenerational health and genetic effects of exposure to ionising radiation. They have had to try to prove to DVA, to health authorities and to the GPs that the extraordinary range of health conditions that they have suffered in the intervening decades was at the hands of those atomic blasts that they were forced to witness. Of course, it is like smoking cigarettes and developing lung cancer. Just as you can never pinpoint the exact cigarette that caused the cancer to take hold in your body, you cannot prove that it was exposure to the atomic blasts that caused the hideous range of health conditions that these veterans have been exposed to—nor should they have, because the epidemiological evidence is sound. It is bedded down against decades of experience in the medical community. 

These veterans are owed more than we are giving them. That is why I am proud to stand here today. Senator Lambie knows that this is not a hostile amendment. This is an amendment that effectively complements and closes an intergenerational loophole that we opened up when we allowed Australian personnel to be harmed by the actions of an ally, and that is not something that anybody should be subject to.

Mr Ray Whitby, a fellow Western Australian, was a nuclear veteran in the 1958 atomic weapons testing at the Montebello Islands in Western Australia. He says the following: “
More than half a century ago, I was a young man eager to serve his country. As a result I have suffered a lifetime of medical issues that have impacted my enjoyment of life. All I now ask for is fair and just compensation.

Mr Geoffrey Gates, one of the 290 veterans who took their case to the Australian Human Rights Commission, says: 
”To not be recognised by the government as having participated in non-warlike hazardous activities is an insult to me, to my family and to all other the veterans and civilians whose lives changed forever because we simply weren’t told the truth.”

We owe these individuals better. The tragedy is that we took for the 2013 election a costing from the independent Parliamentary Budget Office. What they told us extraordinary. It was that the later you leave the introduction of this essential measure to support the health of this dwindling cohort of individuals, the cheaper it gets. I ask the Senate to pause and reflect on why that is. It is because these people are dying. They were exposed in the 1940s and 1950s, and there are not many of them left. I would say that the absolute least obligation that we owe them—whatever your political alignment, whatever your allegiances in this place or what it was that brought you here—is that we should offer them this assistance while some of them yet live. Is that too much to ask? 

In the context of the Defence white paper announced this morning, which proposes, in aggregate, $1 trillion in military spending over forthcoming decades, the least we can do is to honour, acknowledge and help support those veterans who suffered not at the hands of the enemy but at the hands of a nuclear armed ally. I thank Senator Lambie and the Senate.
http://greens.org.au/news/wa/support-and-justice-atomic-veterans (Emphasis our own).

The Greens want nuclear veterans to receive the same health care as other veterans over 70

Australians exposed to nuclear tests were done a great wrong. It is time we showed care for our nuclear veterans. These veterans are aging and should not incur further indignity due to an inability to pay medical costs, nor the further expense and delay of pursuing long-overdue justice.

Australian servicemen, often clad only in shorts and t-shirts, were exposed to nuclear tests while the British scientists in charge looked on wearing protective full body suits.

These veterans have paid a terrible price in terms of radiation-induced illness, suffering a 23% greater chance of having cancer than the general population and an 18% greater chance of dying from cancer.i

The Australian Greens will provide Australian veterans exposed to radiation from British nuclear weapons testing at the Montebello Islands, Maralinga and Emu Fields between 1952 and 1963 with the Gold Card to cover all medical care.

While other veterans over 70 years of age who experienced combat automatically receive the Gold Card, nuclear veterans currently do not because their injuries and illnesses were incurred from the actions of an ally rather than from an enemy or combat situation.

Nuclear veterans are required to prove their health problems are directly linked to radiation exposure from decades ago. Despite being exposed to very high levels of radiation, it is almost impossible to prove concretely that the tests caused an individual’s illnesses. Therefore, the Department of Veterans Affairs very seldom accepts their condition as caused by the tests.

The British detonated 12 nuclear weapons in Australia – three on the Montebello Islands in Western Australia (1952-56), seven at Maralinga (1956-7) and two at Emu Fields (1953) in South Australia. Nine tests were conducted over Christmas and Malden Islands (1957-8). Between 1960 and 1963, an estimated 22 kg of plutonium, uranium and other fission products were dispersed around Taranaki, the most contaminated of the test sites at Maralinga.

Radioactive fallout from the Montebello tests swept across the continent, reaching inland Queensland coastal towns and across to Fiji. Fallout from Maralinga reached Adelaide and Melbourne.

According to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation, approximately 16,000 Australian civilians and servicemen were exposed to nuclear fallout.ii

For a small sum — $85.2 million over the forward estimates — the remaining 1,892 Australian nuclear veterans could be provided the same benefits and entitlements that other veterans are awarded.

The independent Parliamentary Budget Office has estimated providing the Gold Card to all defence personnel participants from 1 July 2014 would cost less than $30 million per year.

We would provide the Department for Veterans Affairs additional staffing of 2.75 FTE to administer implementation, for a cost of $0.4 million over the forward estimates.

Given the devastating impact on their lives and their families, this is a small price to pay.

We are running out of time to exercise our duty of care to these Australians. People should need only to prove that they were exposed to high levels of radiation as a result of the weapons testing in order to get the Gold Card“. http://greens.org.au/nuclear-veterans (Emphasis our own.)

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Australian Greens have released a compensation plan for ADF veterans and atomic test survivors for the health impacts and displacement caused by the British Atomic Weapons tests in Australia.

The Nuclear Veterans package will deliver compensation to nuclear test ADF veterans through the Veterans Gold Card costing $20 million a year and an additional $110 million for an Atomic Survivors health care card to people demonstrating ongoing health impacts from the nuclear tests in effected communities.

Nuclear Spokesperson and Co-Deputy Leader for the Australian Greens, Senator for WA Scott Ludlam said it was time Australia acknowledged the long term consequences of the British Atomic tests to Australian communities.

“Successive Australian Governments ignored the humanitarian consequences of the British atomic weapons tests. It is now time for Australia to acknowledge the devastating health impacts suffered by ADF veterans and provide immediate health support from radiation fallout. Many Aboriginal people were also poisoned and forced off their traditional country,” he said.

The Australian Greens also backed calls for Australia to support renewed international moves to abolish nuclear weapons through the UN General Assembly.

“On the occasion of President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, we commit to changing Australia’s dismal recent record on disarmament, which saw our representatives vote against a UN General Assembly resolution on disarmament,” said Mr Ludlam.

“Australia has an international opportunity to join with 138 other countries who are calling for a global treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

“Both the Labor and Liberal parties continue to rely on nuclear deterrence as part of Australia’s defence strategy – the idea that the threat of nuclear war is enough to dissuade anyone from launching a nuclear attack.

“This is risky because it means always electing or being governed by rational people, relies on there never being an accident, and relies on nuclear weapons always remaining in the hands of ‘rational’ state actors for whom deterrence holds strategic importance…

“The risks are real and the consequences are catastrophic. The best protection against nuclear war is eliminating nuclear weapons.”

The Australian Green policy to address the impact of nuclear weapons testing on communities in Australia includes:
Hold an inquiry into the health impacts of the British Atomic Weapons tests.
Deliver compensation to people who were either forcibly removed or people who left their homes as a result of the atomic weapons testing in Australia
Deliver compensation and an Atomic Survivors health care card for people with health impacts from the British Nuclear Tests conducted in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s and deliver compensation and an Atomic Survivors health care card to the descendants that display intergenerational health impacts.
The Atomic Survivors health care card should give priority treatment for all medical conditions known to be caused by radiation exposure.
Fact Box:
• There are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons belonging to just 9 countries
• In December 2015 the UN General Assembly voted on a Humanitarian Pledge for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. 138 countries voted in favour, 29 voted against and 17 abstained. Australia voted against the motion.
In 2016 there will be three meetings of the UN Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament where there will be a push to develop a global treaty banning nuclear weapons
• In January 2016 the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists kept the doomsday clock at 3 minutes to midnight – citing the growing threat of terrorism, climate change and nuclear weapons as the core reason for the threat rating. The Doomsday Clock was at 3 minutes to midnight at the height of the cold war

http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/sites/default/files/weapons_2016_initiaitve.pdf http://greens.org.au/news/wa/atomic-testing-compensation-long-overdue http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/au/ (Emphasis our own).

What is the Gold Card?
Gold card – ‘DVA health card – For all conditions’

A Gold card entitles the holder to DVA funding for services for all clinically necessary health care needs, and all health conditions, whether they are related to war service or not.  The card holder may be a veteran or the widow/widower or dependant of a veteran.  Only the person named on the card is covered.
White card – ‘DVA health card – For specific conditions’

A White card entitles the holder to care and treatment for:
* accepted injuries or conditions that are war caused or service related;
* malignant cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety and/or depression whether war caused or not; and 
* the symptoms of unidentifiable conditions that arise within 15 years of service (other than peacetime service).

See too: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd0607/07bd031

Deadly legacy still haunts Maralinga veterans“, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcast: 21/02/2013 Reporter: Matt Peacock (Transcript) https://web.archive.org/web/20140302225635/http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3695723.htm


For summaries re UK, NZ Veterans see: https://pacificnukes.wordpress.com

Very good video found here: https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/nuclear-testing-australias-dark-past-and-the-failures-of-successive-and-current-governments,5982

In addition to the major tests, a large number of minor trials were also carried out, from June 1955 and extended through to April 1963. Although the major tests had been carried out with some publicity, the minor tests were carried out in absolute secrecy. These minor tests left a dangerous legacy of radioactive contamination at Maralinga. The four series of minor trials were codenamed ‘Kittens’, ‘Tims’, ‘Rats’ and ‘Vixen’. In all, these trials included up to 700 tests, with tests involving experiments with plutonium, uranium, and beryllium… The differences in the sort of dangers presented by major vs the minor tests is that there was no critical explosion in the minor tests. In the major tests, the bomb cores reached critical mass; the plutonium or uranium fissile materials “burned” into highly radioactive fission products, and those, along with the unspent fuel and activated bomb case, tower and soil if the explosion was close to the ground, are lofted into the stratosphere to be dropped eventually as fallout globally. In Vixen, an equivalent amount of plutonium fuel was simply smashed by explosives and spread about much more locally. In Kittens, Tims and Rats, smaller amounts of various materials were similar exploded locally and spread about.“. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_nuclear_tests_at_Maralinga

New Zealand Nuclear Veterans:
Operation Hurricane, and NZ observers & indoctrinees (1952-1958)
War-pension & medal recognition (1998-2007)
Operation Grapple recognised as emergency
In March 1998 veterans who served at Operation Grapple had the status of their war pension coverage changed from routine to emergency. This meant claims made from that time forward would be considered using more relaxed evidential provisions. (Claims declined prior to March 1998 can be reconsidered, if a veteran believes the condition is related to exposure to ionising radiation).
Mururoa recognised as emergency
In June 2002 service observing the French nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll on 22 and 28 July 2002 was declared an emergency service. Any war pension claims from that time forward would be considered using more relaxed evidential provisions. (Claims declined prior to June 2002 can be reconsidered, if a veteran believes the condition is related to exposure to ionising radiation).
Medallic recognition
In July 2002, in response to request for medallic recognition, Operation Grapple &Mururoa service was recognised with the NZ Special Service Medal (Nuclear Testing).
Presumptive list for Jayforce, Operation Grapple & Mururoa
Veterans’ Affairs introduced (August 2007) lists of presumptively-accepted injuries & illnesses, to help resolution of War Disablement Pension claims. One list, linked to potential exposure to ionising radiation, was for veterans with Qualifying Operational Service at Jayforce, Operation Grapple or Mururoa.
Under presumptive lists, a veteran’s injury or illness is automatically deemed attributable to service if:
* the veteran served in a deployments for which there’s a presumptive list; and
* the injury or illness is on the list.
The lists are based on the IoM categories where there is one of:
* causal relationship between military service and an injury or illness
* positive association between military service and an injury or illness
* limited or suggestive evidence of an association between military service an injury or illness.
New Zealand uses the IoM’s work as being the most comprehensive information.
US list as model for NZ list
NZ list of presumptively-accepted conditions (for nuclear veterans) is modelled on a US Department of Veterans Affairs list. The US Department has two lists from the US Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (1990).
The first is a ‘statutory list’ of conditions presumptively-recognised as having a service-connection for veterans exposed to ionising radiation. This is the list Veterans’ Affairs has used for its presumptive list.
The second is the ‘regulatory list’ of radiogenic diseases not automatically awarded. The conditions on this list are only awarded if the veteran meets a range of additional factors, including amount & duration of radiation exposure, and elapsed time between exposure & onset of the disease. These conditions haven’t been added to the NZ presumptive list, as not presumed service-related unless specific exposure-criteria are met. But NZ nuclear veterans can:
* make claims for any conditions on this list; and
* have the claim considered under the applicable presumptions in favour of veterans with Qualifying Operational Service.