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Progress on Viet Nam Veteran's Issues

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence

14 August 2006

Progress on Viet Nam Veteran's Issues

Defence Minister Phil Goff described as constructive a meeting he held today with representatives of the Returned Services Association and Ex-Vietnam Services Association. The meeting was to report progress on the Government's consideration of the report of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on the concerns of Viet Nam Veterans.

"We are now working through a process of consultation on the Government's response to proposals from the JWG. I have invited the two Associations to provide additional information on a number of points and we will meet again when I receive this.

"The meeting was positive and constructive and good progress was made.

"Our focus is very much on the needs of those facing serious health problems as a result of this service in Viet Nam.

"This exercise is about acknowledging the past and putting things right.

"It is not about handouts of cash across the board, contrary to erroneous reports circulated to the media.

"We are looking at how we can help veterans whose health was damaged by exposure to a toxic environment and their families.

"We are working on the basis of established scientific evidence. However we are ready to respond to further medical and scientific evidence about the impact of Agent Orange and other toxins on the health of veterans as it becomes available.

"Once the process of consultation is concluded, the Minister of Veterans' Affairs, Rick Barker and I will announce the full response of Government to the recommendations of the JWG", Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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