The following news is deeply distressing. Those nuclear veterans who participated in the action through the Human Right Commission of Australia give this final avenue of group action their best shot.
As we remember the battles fought for justice over many years, we recall that it was the nuclear veterans and affected civilians who eventually succeeded in causing the 1984 Royal Commission to be held. The recommendation to pay compensation to veterans was not carried out. It took until the 1990s for the Federal government to commence the cleanup of Maralinga Test Site. In the process the lies perpetrated against the Australian people were revealed.
Maralinga was not safe, despite the assurances of senior scientists and politicians, false assurances, uttered since the 1960s.
The role of Aboriginal people in securing agreement of the British to contribute to the clean up costs cannot be forgotten. We cannot forget their long wait to go home after being denied their land since the 1950s.
I hope by now the shock of the exclusion from access to the HRC has dulled somewhat for the veterans.
For the first time in decades, Australia is without some form of group action through legal means, conducted by the Nuclear Veterans of Australia. When the last British veteran case is heard by the British courts, the Anglo-Australian effort for nuclear justice will end entirely.
The Australian nuclear may still put individual claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs. If they don’t mention radiation as the reason for their service related illness, the chance of success is heightened. I am told.
In any cases, the cold comfort of free cancer treatment is the “bonus” of the Howard government health survey of 2006. Even though the government maintains that radiation exposure is not a cause of any of the veteran’s illnesses. The cohort has a much higher risk of cancer than the rest of us. The event which caused the creation of the cohort, the bomb tests and contaminated environment of the tests sites, is not the cause of any illness, say the nuclear authorities.
Yet those same authorities could not permit the Aboriginal people to return to those lands until they had been cleaned up. Were the test sites safer in the immediate aftermath of the bombs? Of course not.
From the earliest days, government sought to sow division within the ranks of the nuclear veterans community. Now perhaps, government and industry will leave those few remaining alone, so that they may spent their time in peace. No more will government lawyers have to pull out the mental health books in order to insult the group in court.
How can a soldier trained in the failed procedures of the British nuclear battlefield at Maralinga be a “radiophobe”? Such a term is an abuse of medicine.
At the going down of the sun, we shall remember them. Here’s to Ric and Terry, even though they were like cold water on hot oil when they were together. And Terry’s still kicking.
Australian Nuclear Veterans’ Association
Australian Atomic ExServicemens’ Association, including the troops who Occupied Hiroshima, including those exposed to radiation in the course of their military duties, including nuclear bomb veterans.
Via Stacks Law Firm
MARALINGA NUCLEAR TESTS CASE REJECTED BY HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Courtesy of the Guardian by Paul Farrell, 10 December 2013
Commission says it does not have jurisdiction to hear case of veterans exposed to radiation from British nuclear testing
Australian veterans deliberately exposed to British nuclear bomb testing have had their case rejected by Australia’s Human Rights Commission, which says it does not have the jurisdiction to hear their complaint.
The ruling was the last legal avenue available to the surviving 300 veterans, who argued the Menzies government violated their human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by exposing them to harmful radiation from nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s at Maralinga, South Australia.
“This decision marks the end of the road for our nuclear veterans, and I would say that the only recourse they have available to them now is a plea for an act of grace by the Australian government to take responsibility for the events involving nuclear testing on Australian soil,” said Joshua Dale, a human rights law specialist from the law firm Stacks/Goudkamp, which represented the veterans.
He said the decision was a failure to recognise the rights of military veterans.
“Sir Robert Menzies proclaimed Australia’s signature on the declaration indicated to the world that ‘we stand for justice’. He then allowed the British to conduct nuclear tests on Australian soil. The nuclear veterans have been denied justice, they have been denied rights to compensation, and ultimately they have been deprived of their dignity and recognition by the government who wronged them,” he said.
The president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, wrote in her decision: “I am of the opinion that the commission does not have jurisdiction to enquire into alleged acts or practices that occurred during the period 1952 to 1963, whether under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or under any international human rights instrument scheduled to or declared for the purposes of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act.”
Veterans who were present at the nuclear testing at Maralinga have higher rates of cancer than the general population. The tests led to widespread contamination of the surrounding land.
Australian serviceman, as well as Indigenous people who lived near the test sites, have been pressing the UK and Australian governments for compensation for their injuries. The British supreme court found in 2012 that 1,000 British veterans who joined together to make a claim could not succeed because too much time had passed since the tests.
Dale has called on the government to examine veterans’ affairs legislation and allow the serviceman to be able to gain compensation.
“What needs to happen now is that a genuine discussion be had between all members of parliament to address the inadequacies that exist in relation to veterans’ affairs legislation directly affecting the nuclear veterans.
“These men deserve the peace of mind to know that the government that wronged them will now finally look after them.”