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Speech shows Brash to be yesterday's man

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Veterans' Affairs

7 November 2006
Media Release

Speech shows Brash to be yesterday's man

Veterans' Affairs Minister Rick Barker today said Don Brash's address to the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association National Council meeting shows that everything we have done has passed Dr Brash by, and confirms he is yesterday's man.

"Today Don Brash said central to National's Veterans Affairs policy is a Gold Card. It may be news to Dr Brash but we have already publicly announced that we are doing this and an update on progress will be on Saturday", said Rick Barker.

"Brash also called for Veteran's Affairs New Zealand to become a 'one stop shop'. As I have previously stated, my aim is to have all veterans who seek services individually case managed by 2010.

"Brash has also missed the boat in his call for a review of Veteran's Affairs New Zealand. A review of the effectiveness of the governance structure and relationship management arrangements is underway.

"Brash called for 'urgent action' by the Government on the issue of the exposure of service people in Viet Nam to a toxic environment. This is an astounding statement given the National Party's appalling track record on the issue.

"This Labour led government is the first to acknowledge that service personnel who served in Viet Nam were exposed to a toxic environment, and in 2004 set up the Joint Working Group to look into the issue.

"This acknowledgement followed decades of neglect from previous governments. In fact, the National Party in 1983 and 1990 prevented the passing of Bills introduced by my former Labour Party colleague Geoffrey Braybrooke that would have allowed for the investigation of the effects of Agent Orange.

"The Government has received the recommendations from the Joint Working Group and are in discussions with representatives of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association and the Ex-Vietnam Services Association about addressing those recommendations and how the concerns can most effectively be addressed.

"Both the government and these organisations recognise that to find a resolution to the issues raised in the report should not be in the form of a quick fix band-aid approach but in a sincere and comprehensive approach that is fair and just.

"Don Brash's speech shows that only a Labour-led Government has the ideas and commitment to provide our veterans with the services they deserve. It also demonstrates that National badly needs new direction, new leadership, and new ideas," said Rick Barker.

ENDS

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