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Failure to Pay POW Vet Shows Clark Doesn't Care

Failure to Pay POW Veteran Shows Clark Government Doesn't Care

Defence Minister Mark Burton's treatment of a World War II prisoner of war exposes the true values of Helen Clark's government, ACT Finance spokesman Rodney Hide said today.

"Mr Ross Lynneberg is a World War II veteran who proudly served his country in the Pacific. He was transferred to the British Navy but the Japanese captured him in Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941 before his pay could be processed. He was held in Hong Kong for months. He was shipped to Japan on the Lisbon Maru death ship with 1815 other captured Allied soldiers. Only half of the POWs made it to Japan alive. Another 200 died soon after their arrival.

"Mr Lynneberg survived, but he was never paid by the British government and our own government short-changed him on his return. He wrote to Defence Minister Mark Burton who responded, "there is unfortunately nothing that I can do to assist you in obtaining the arrears of pay which you are seeking".

"That's not good enough. The government found money to pay thug Brian Gary Rees $42,000 in compensation because he had been held in prison 149 days too long. Rees still got out after serving just one year and seven months of a two-and-a-half year sentence. Corrections Minister Matt Robson said Rees had a "fairly good" case for compensation.

"Under Helen Clark's government, it's okay to pay compensation to a vicious thug, but a veteran who served his country doesn't even get his pay. This Government readily dishes out cash to thugs, but won't pay a veteran soldier the back-pay he is owed.

"We can never repay Mr Lynneberg and his comrades for the service they gave our country - but we can at least give them their pay and treat them with respect. Mr Lynneberg was held in prison camps for 1,374 days. He is owed £313/12/3, or $302,678 before tax in today's money. I have written to the Prime Minister telling her the New Zealand Government should pay Mr Lynneberg what he is owed and then seek the money from the British Government. Our Government has a far better chance of getting reimbursement than an 81-year-old former Prisoner of War who lacks even the support of his own Defence Minister.

"Politicians like Mark Burton turn up solemn-faced at Anzac Day parades but they are not prepared to lift a finger to help veterans. The treatment of war veterans in New Zealand should shame us all. The dismissive treatment of Ross Lynneberg is sadly par for the course. A POW veteran has been treated worse by this government than a common criminal," Rodney Hide said.


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