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Veterans to be heard

Veterans to be heard

The National Party MP responsible for winning a select committee inquiry into the use of Agent Orange on Kiwi soldiers in Vietnam says veterans and their families can now rest easy in the knowledge that they will be heard.

Judith Collins is commenting in the wake of the Health Select Committee decision to allow veterans to give evidence to the inquiry in person.

"Veterans have said for more than 30 years they were in areas sprayed by chemical defoliants, now they'll get a chance to provide the country with their side of the story," says the National Party Associate Health spokesperson.

"Just yesterday the Minister of Defence provided an answer to written questions by National's Richard Worth, in which he admits that between 1965 and 1971 a total of 487,000 US gallons of herbicide was sprayed on Phuoc Tuy Province from aircraft.

"In addition, an unknown amount of herbicide was sprayed from aircraft requested by the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) between 1966 and 1970.

"Ground spraying of herbicides was also undertaken in Phuoc Tuy Province by 1ATF, which included the NZ Armed Forces units as part of perimeter clearance tasks," says Ms Collins.

"The information further shows that between 1966 and 1970, 23,350 lbs and 7,425 gallons were sent from Australia to 1ATF.

"The Minister has acknowledged that some herbicides procured in New Zealand may have been used as well.

"Above all else, veterans and their children will be pleased to know that Defence is now talking about this issue," says Ms Collins.

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