Justice for Nuclear Testing Victims Is Long Overdue

Senator Scott Ludlam
February 21, 2013

The Greens today expressed support for the bid by Australian veterans exposed to British nuclear tests in Australia to secure compensation through the Human Rights Commission, and renewed their call for the British to compensate all victims of atomic weapons testing.

Greens spokesperson for nuclear policy Senator Scott Ludlam wrote to the office of British Foreign Secretary William Hague five weeks ago urging him to give Act of Grace payments to the victims and wrote to Mr Hague again today.

"The hopes of Australians exposed to nuclear testing were dealt a blow by a UK court ruling against compensation in January. The people exposed to the testing at Maralinga and other sites have been denied adequate compensation on onerous and fastidious technical grounds. Justice has been delayed too long," said Senator Ludlam.

"The Menzies Government knew these people would be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. The findings of the 1984-1985 Royal Commission support the claim that the Australian authorities, along with the British, deliberately put Australian personnel in harm's way, and certainly showed no regard for the Aboriginal people living in the area.

"The human rights of those subjected to this treatment were violated. They and their children have paid a terrible price in terms of radiation-induced illness. The Australian personnel involved have proven to be 23 per cent more likely to have cancer than the general population, and 18 per cent more likely to die from cancer.

"The people exposed to the tests were done a great wrong and time is of the essence. They should not incur further indignity due to inability to pay medical costs, nor the further expense and delay of the legal pursuit of long-overdue justice.

"This blight on the history of both the United Kingdom and Australia has gone on too long and the opportunity to make things right will pass us by unless taken now."

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