Collins' Comments: Agent Orange effects
Judith Collins Clevedon MP 28 July 2006
Agent Orange has serious effects!
A new study out today has confirmed that all New Zealand Vietnam veterans are very likely to have huge problems with chromosomal damage because of the effects of Agent Orange, which was used by U.S military in the Vietnam War. Massey University scientists compared veterans to non-veterans finding significant differences between the two groups. All 25 Manawatu veterans who took part in the study have had forms of genetic degeneration. The research from Massey University reveals that children and grandchildren of the veterans may also suffer significant genetic damage. Here’s hoping this research will open the eyes of the Government that hasn’t responded to recommendations of an earlier report three months ago. The Government has had the Joint Working Group Report since April, but we still have had no reaction, nor have they released the official report and its recommendations. Thirty-five years is too long for our Vietnam veterans to wait.
I have written to the Minister of Veteran Affairs, Rick Barker, requesting that the National Party be able to help bring some form of closure to veterans. To date this has been to no avail, as I am yet to hear back from the minister. In the past the exposure of veterans to the defoliant has been ashamedly questioned. It was only when National pushed for a Health Select Committee Inquiry into Agent Orange that acknowledgement was made that the veterans were indeed exposed to the chemicals. It’s not uncommon for many veterans to suffer officially recognised psychological and physical disorders. Given the positive outcome of the select committee inquiry into Agent Orange that began last year, I believe that once again it is time for politics to be put aside.
We are willing to work with the Government, but first need them to open up and share with us the recommendations of the Working Group Report. My offer to the Minister is sincere, and is endorsed by Dr. Don Brash.