Senator Ludlam (Western Australia) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, upon notice, on 28 September 2010:
Given that a total of only 29 Aboriginal Australians have ever received compensation for suffering as a result of exposure to British nuclear tests, and given the more generous budgetary and medical support recently extended to nuclear veterans, will the Government provide similar access to medical services to affected Aboriginal Australians.
Senator Sherry (Tasmania) (Minister for Small Business, Minister Assisting on Deregulation and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) -The Minister for Resources and Energy has provided the following answer to the honorable senator's question:
The 2010 Budget measure provides ex-defence personnel, who participated in the British Nuclear Test Program in Australia, with access to entitlements under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986. Disability pensions and health care treatment will be provided to those who suffer from medical conditions which are accepted as related to their service in the British Nuclear Test Program.
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is responsible for the Administrative Scheme for third party contractors, pastoralists and Indigenous persons present in the relevant areas during the British Nuclear Test Program and who suffered an illness or injury as a result of the tests. The Scheme provides successful claimants with benefits similar to those currently available under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988. Coverage under this Scheme provides eligible persons with payment or reimbursement for medical costs, lost wages, access to a lump sum for permanent impairment, and payment for death and funeral benefits.
In 1991, the Australian Government settled, in full, all claims for trespass and injury bought against the Commonwealth of Australia by Aborigines living in northern South Australia at the time of the nuclear tests conducted at Maralinga and Emu Field. These claimants were identified during the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia by a team of lawyers, scientists and historians advising Aboriginal groups during the Royal Commission.