COMPILED FROM REPORTS ON NEWSTALK ZB, AUCKLAND, AUGUST 14 & 15, 2006
The Government says it is committed to making sure Vietnam Veterans and their children will get redress for the impacts of Agent Orange, but compensation will not come in the form of cash handouts.
The Government and veterans have held a meeting to discuss a study that confirms New Zealand soldiers were exposed to the chemical during the Vietnam War.
Use of the deadly defoliant, and the consequences for soldiers exposed to it, have been the subject of a decades long battle for veterans of the conflict.
Defence Minister Phil Goff says the science indicates that there are a number of conditions that have affected the veterans and also their children as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. Diseases associated with dioxin exposure are chloracne, soft tissue sarcomas, Hodgkin’s disease, and non-Hodgkin’s disease.
He says it is the Government’s intention to address the needs of both affected groups. A Joint Working Group is a matter of months away from reaching a decision on what compensation those affected by the chemical’s use in the Vietnam War will receive.
The exercise, says Goff, is about acknowledging the past and putting things right, not about across-the-board cash handouts as has been publicly speculated. He says the Government is working on the basis of established scientific evidence, but will respond to fresh information about the health impacts of Agent Orange as it becomes available.