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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3230

(Question No. 922)

Senator Macklin asked the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, upon notice, 30 May 1984:

(1) Are claims for compensation already lodged by nuclear veterans being shelved; if so, why; if not, what is happening to them.

(2) What is the Government's current approach to claims lodged by members of the Nuclear Veterans Association and is the onus put upon these people to prove their injuries are radiation-related.

Senator Gietzelt —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) There are two categories of Australian veterans who may be considered as coming within the term 'nuclear veterans' used by the honourable senator:

A. Those who were prisoners of war at Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the time of the atomic blasts or who were members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan; and

B. Those who participated in the British atomic test program in Australia during the 1950s and 1960s.

Those in category A are eligible to apply for benefits under the Repatriation Act 1920 and these are being dealt with by my Department and independent determining authorities within the provisions of the Repatriation Act. They are not being shelved.

Claims under the Repatriation Act are processed by my Department and determined by repatriation boards in the first instance with avenues of appeal to the Repatriation Commission and the Repatriation Review Tribunal (RRT).

Those in category B are not covered by the Repatriation Act but are eligible to claim compensation under the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971 which is the responsibility of the Minister for Social Security.

(2) Section 47 of the Repatriation Act requires a Repatriation Board or the Repatriation Commission to allow a claim unless it is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that there are insufficient grounds for doing so. A similar provision is contained in section 107VG in regard to decisions by the RRT. There is no onus on claimants to prove their injuries are due to radiation exposure. Any claims lodged by eligible members of the Nuclear Veterans Association under the Repatriation Act are processed with the same care and consideration as are claims lodged by any other person eligible to claim under repatriation legislation.