It is estimated that over twelve thousand Australian Army, Navy and Airforce personnel were involuntarily and negligently exposed to radiation during the British atomic weapons testing programme at Monte-Bellos, Maralinga and Emu between 1952 and 1963.
To the shame of successive governments, no official or public recognition has been given to these servicemen, who for the most part, have been forced to suffer in silence despite being used as human guinea pigs during the atomic testing programme.
Yesterday I asked the Minister for Veteran Affairs why these veterans have not received service or public recognition, why cant they receive benefits under the Veterans Entitlement Act Hazardous Service Clause, and why the list of serving personnel is still secret after all these years?
The Ministers unsatisfactory reply was, those people exposed to radiation were covered under the Commonwealths compensation scheme, not the Veterans Entitlement Act. Comcare is totally inadequate and the few who have compensation have achieved this through the Courts.
These servicemen have been placed under the Comcare act because the government refuses to acknowledge their service as hazardous. It is disgraceful and dishonest that anyone could categorise their exposure to radiation as anything other than extremely hazardous, in fact in many cases their service was rewarded with a death sentence.
Even though they continue to suffer and die, the government refuses to see them - they are only a few left and they deserve help and recognition. The government must stop being so adversarial and start being realistic and sympathetic.
The Australian Government falls all over itself with its speed and enthusiasm to give our money away in foreign aid, but when it comes to helping those who have fought and made sacrifices for our country, they hide like people who owe money they dont want to pay.
Statement issued by the office of Pauline Hanson MP, Member for Oxley.