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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 5786

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (20:31): I will add a couple of very quick remarks before we put Senator Wright's and then Senator Xenophon's amendments. I am unsure whether the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence is aware that I do not necessarily support those figures for precisely the reason that Senator Xenophon has put on the record. Do you feel comfortable, Parliamentary Secretary, acknowledging $100 million in unmet need for a particular class of veterans who we appear to be simply sidelining on a technicality? As you said in your statement, from the information you have been given by your advisers, cancer treatment is covered, but you would be well aware that ionising radiation of the kind that was inflicted on these soldiers and the many Aboriginal people who were still on those lands can create a large number of conditions that are not cancer related at all. That is precisely where this huge level of unmet need resides. I strongly support Senator Xenophon for moving this amendment. If you do not trust the figures that you have given us, Senator Wright has given you a perfect opportunity to look at how much it will cost. I cannot believe that we would simply sideline on a technicality this cohort of people who, in the service of our country, were irradiated by British nuclear weapons. I strongly urge a rethink on, if nothing else, Senator Wright's perfectly sensible amendment that says: let us establish how much it will cost. Please, let us not just erase these people from history after what we put them through.