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Lest We Forget Nuclear Veterans

Between 1952 and 1963, approximately 16,000 Australian civilians and serviceman were exposed to nuclear fallout when British nuclear weapons were tested at the Montebello Islands in Western Australia, Maralinga and Emu fields in South Australia, and over the Christmas and Malden Islands.

"Today Australians mark the sacrifice, suffering and deaths of our servicemen and women in all wars, but unfortunately some of our veterans have been forgotten," said Australian Greens spokesperson on nuclear policy, Senator Scott Ludlam.

"We are running out of time to exercise our duty of care to the 1892 Australian nuclear veterans that are denied Gold Card health care costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office at less than $30m per year.

"Unlike other veterans who receive the Gold Card for health care automatically upon reaching 70 years, nuclear veterans are not recognised as having served in combat.

"Their illnesses and injury - including 23% more cancer deaths than the general population as well as other radiation related disorders including multiple miscarriages, leukaemia and respiratory conditions - were incurred from the actions of an ally rather than from an enemy.

"Currently, nuclear veterans are required to make upfront payments and then case-by-case submissions of receipts and reimbursements.

"Without a Gold Card, our nuclear veterans are condemned to a life time of bureaucratic hoop jumping in terms of filing receipts and proving their injury because they must apply for medical assistance each time.

"Nuclear veterans have paid a terrible price and have suffered enough. Providing the Gold Card for nuclear veterans is a respectful and responsible way to help compensate for the injury and misery caused by nuclear testing.

"I have called on the government to seize the opportunity of amending the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Bill before the last Senate to do what the previous government failed to do," Senator Ludlam concluded.

Earlier this year Senator Ludlam wrote to British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UK Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans Mark Francois urging the British Government to make Act Of Grace compensation payments to Australia's nuclear veterans.

Details of the Greens costed plan for nuclear veterans is available


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