Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 24

(Question No. 1457)

Senator Macklin asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 22 October 1986:

(1) Has it been suggested by the Maralinga and Monte Bello Atomic Ex-Servicemen's Association that service records and medical documents of military personnel involved at the Emu, Maralinga and Monte Bello atomic tests have been falsified by the Department of Defence.

(2) Has it also been suggested that the Department of Defence incorrectly informed major hospitals, when requests were submitted for service medical documents, that they held no information of people involved with the atomic tests.

(3) Has the allegation been further made that, as a result of this information, hospitals treated test participants who were ill as psychologically disturbed patients.

(4) Does the Department of Defence deny the allegations mentioned at (1), (2) and (3) above.

(5) Does the Department of Defence in fact hold records of all military personnel involved in the tests at Emu, Maralinga and Monte Bello; if so, will such records be made available under the Freedom of Information Act.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1 to 3) Yes.

(4) Yes.

(5) (a). The Department of Defence holds most of the personal Service and medical records of the Australian military personnel involved; the remainder are held by various offices of the Australian Government Solicitor in connection with a number of current court proceedings and by Government organisations handling claims arising from the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees') Act 1971. As regards hospital records, despite extensive searches, those of the Maralinga Hospital have yet to be located.

(b). Requests for personal and medical records made under the FOI Act will be made available whenever possible. This undertaking is limited only by exceptions and exemptions necessary for the protection of essential public interests and the private and business affairs of persons in respect of whom information is collected and held by departments and public authorities. Each request for access to a document is treated on its merits. Medical and Service documents are, however, generally accessible to the person concerned although, in some cases, documents containing medical or psychiatric information are disclosed only to a medical practitioner nominated by the person requesting access if it is judged that direct disclosure might be prejudicial to the health or well being of that person.