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Atomic testing compensation long overdue

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 30 May 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 $20million a year and an additional $110million 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. Anyone watching the US Republican Primaries will understand how reckless these assumptions have become.

“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. 



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