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Wednesday, 14 May 1980
Page: 2186

Senator KNIGHT - I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs to my question on 25 March this year concerning developments relating to the use of defoliants in Vietnam, particularly agent orange as it is known, and the results of research being conducted in Hanoi. Has the Government now been able to give consideration to my suggestion that a medical and scientific research team from Australia should go to Hanoi to assess this research and its results? What is the outcome of that consideration?


The Government has considered the question and has decided not to send a medical or research team to Vietnam to study the problem. I am advised that following the screening of the segment of the television program 60 Minutes concerning herbicides in Vietnam on 23 March 1980, the permanent head of the Department of Veterans ' Affairs, Sir Richard Kingsland, and his Chief Director of Medical Services, Dr Fleming, visited television station executives in Sydney to receive and to discuss material given to them by the Vietnamese. At the request of the Department of Veterans' Affairs the Australian Embassy in Hanoi has been seeking information on the subject of the relationship between herbicides and disabilities. During April the Department of Foreign Affairs forwarded a collection of notes, graphs and articles by Professor Tung and his colleagues for use in the Department of Veterans 'Affairs.

It will be recalled that on 3 I March this year the Minister for Veterans' Affairs advised that the Government had asked the Commonwealth Institute of Health to carry out a study of all Australian veterans who served in Vietnam to determine whether they or their offspring could have been adversely affected by the exposure of exservicemen to agent orange or other chemicals in Vietnam. I have no other information on this matter, but I will refer Senator Knight's question to the Minister for Veterans ' Affairs to determine the up-to-date position.

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