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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 5785

Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (20:28): That is not illumination. That is just casting a shroud over things, honestly. As for the notion of $15,600 a year for four years for 2,000 participants, there is no such notion here. Guess what? These people are dying off. In four years time there will not be 2,000 veterans who survived the British nuclear tests here in Australia. Who knows what the number will be, but we know that the rate of death, the rate of these people not being with us on this earth anymore, is increasing. This is simply to say that, in the same way that others who have served in warlike service get a gold card, this is warlike service and this is something they should be entitled to. This issue will not go away. I will pursue it in estimates. I will pursue it with the government. I urge my colleagues in the coalition and the government, particularly my backbench colleagues—including Senators Sterle and Bishop, for whom I have high regard—to take this matter up.

Senator Sterle: And the Greens!

Senator XENOPHON: The Greens are already onside, Senator Sterle. And I am looking forward to Senator Boswell's not being part of this dismissive approach to our veterans of the British nuclear tests. I have moved the amendment standing in my name. I look forward to this.

I have just been handed some material that relates to the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. It is interesting to note that radiation is classified into two types: initial radiation, which is released by the atomic bomb within one minute of detonation, and residual radiation, which is released after the initial radiation. Those who were exposed to radiation suffered long after the war was over. It took people a long time to recognise the invisible effects of the A-bomb, of the diseases caused by the A-bomb. A group of symptoms which appeared during the first four or five months after the explosion were called acute sickness or injuries, and symptoms that appeared after a certain incubation period were called after-effects of radiation. That is what we are dealing with. That is why this matter needs to be dealt with with some urgency. I urge my backbench colleagues, of both the government and the opposition, to reconsider their position in relation to the gold card. This will not be the end of it if this amendment is defeated, as it appears that it will be. We need to deal with this. These vague rubbery figures of up to $110 million—the government really stands condemned for the way it has sidelined these concerns.