Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Agreement Reached by Government and Vietnam Vets


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Veterans' Affairs

06 December 2006
Media statement

Agreement Reached by Government and Vietnam Veterans


Defence Minister Phil Goff and Veterans Affairs Minister Rick Barker today announced details of the government's response to the recommendations of the Joint Working Group report on the concerns of Viet Nam veterans.

"A formal memorandum of understanding has been signed between the government and representatives of Viet Nam veterans, the Ex-Vietnam Services Association (EVSA) and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RNZRSA).

"The agreed package is wide ranging and acknowledges in concrete terms that service personnel in Viet Nam and their families have been exposed to and continue to be affected by a toxic environment.

"The package is targeted at the key concerns of veterans and their families. These include personal health, the health of children and grand-children, the hurt that has remained with them for decades over the way their exposure to toxic environments has been denied and handled and the manner in which they were treated on their return to New Zealand.

"The focus of this package is on those who have served their country and have faced health or other difficulties. It is based on the three key themes of acknowledging the past, putting things right and improving services to Viet Nam veterans. This government is committed to ensuring this structured and thorough process creates the right circumstances in which we can put this sad chapter in New Zealand's recent history behind us.

"A large amount of detailed planning and development work is required to implement this package. We will establish a Joint Implementation Group comprising representatives from a number of government agencies, the RNZRSA and EVSA to oversee the implementation of the memorandum of understanding.
The first meeting of the JIG will be held in early 2007.

"Details of the events, services and programmes to be implemented will be promulgated to veterans and their families as soon as the JIG has begun working on the practical implementation issues.

"The package will deliver benefits close to $30 million.

"Today's announcement completes a process which began in 2004 when parliament's Health Select Committee reported on Viet Nam veteran's exposure to defoliants. In response to representations made by Veterans' groups, the Joint Working Group, chaired by Michael Wintringham, was established to make recommendations to government on concerns of Viet Nam veterans.

"The Joint Working Group reported to Ministers on 28 April 2006 and the report can be found online at www.vietnamvetswg.govt.nz . Following completion of the report, negotiations began with veteran's organisations. We would like to thank representatives of the EVSA and the RNZRSA for the hard work and commitment they put into successful conclusion to the negotiations. The package announced today substantially reflects the recommendations of the report.

"It is estimated that approximately 3400 New Zealanders served in the Viet Nam war. Many of those veterans and their families receive services from Veterans Affairs New Zealand and the War Pension Services Unit within the Ministry of Social Development.

"We are pleased that after 34 years the grievances which existed and became entrenched have been addressed. It will take time for the healing process to work but at least this process can now begin," said Mr Goff and Mr Barker.

A summary of the government's response package is attached to this release.


ENDS


Contact: Jeremy Seed (press secretary) 04 471 9794 or 021 278 7233
Jeremy.seed@parliament.govt.nz

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches are posted at www.beehive.govt.nz


Summary of the Memorandum of Understanding signed today between government and Veterans groups covering the government response to the concerns of Viet Nam Veterans.


Apology And Acknowledgement

• A formal public apology to Viet Nam Veterans and their families.

Reeves and McLeod reports

• Acknowledge the Reeves (1999) and McLeod (2001) reports were based on flawed assumptions and do not inform current government policy or decisions.

Welcome Home Ceremony

• New Zealand Defence Force to host parade and welcome home ceremony.
• Formal Statement by NZDF acknowledging the role played by Veterans, the treatment they received on return to New Zealand, and the sacrifice of those Veterans killed in Viet Nam.

Oral History Programme

• Funding through Ministry of Culture and Heritage for an oral history programme beginning in 2007 to record accounts of the experiences of Viet Nam Veterans.

Increased Medallic Recognition

• Recommend to Her Majesty the Queen that she approve for acceptance and wear South Vietnamese gallantry awards given to New Zealanders.
• A Review of the medallic recognition awarded to Viet Nam Veterans and of the Theatre Honours awarded to the 1 RNZIR Battalion.

Ex Gratia Payments For Viet Nam Veterans

• Ex-gratia payment of $40,000 for Veterans suffering a prescribed condition.
• Ex-gratia payment of $25,000 for spouse or partner of Veteran who has died as a result of prescribed condition.

War Disablement Pensions

• All Veterans, of any conflict, diagnosed with a terminal illness which is a result of operational service will receive pension equal to 160% of current War Disablement Pension.
• Substantial and substantive review of War Pensions Act to provide improved service delivery for all Veterans.
• Expert panel established to advise Crown on rates, types and eligibility criteria of war pensions.

Programme For Children Of Viet Nam Veterans

• Ex-gratia payment up to $30,000 to each child who suffers from any of five accepted conditions.
• Ex-gratia payment of $30,000 to each family who has lost a child to one of five accepted conditions.
• Review of services for children and grand-children of Viet Nam Veterans in other countries.

Ongoing Research

• Crown will access, monitor and where appropriate sponsor research into the intergenerational effects of dioxins.

EVSA Youth Development Trust

• One off grant of $250,000 to EVSA Youth Development Trust which assists children of Viet Nam Veterans.

Veterans' Card

• Card issued to all Viet Nam Veterans to allow easy identification by medical professionals.
• Children and grand children of Viet Nam Veterans to received similar card.

National Register

• Crown to establish a national register of Viet Nam Veterans and their children and grandchildren.

Provision Of Information

• Veterans' Affairs New Zealand to make available to Veteran groups and health professionals medical information to assist with treatments and diagnosis.
• Crown to work with Veteran's Homes to establish centres of excellence for information on and treatment of conditions prevalent amongst veterans.

Veterans' Affairs New Zealand Review

• Review of all aspects of operations of Veterans' Affairs New Zealand.

Medical Assessments

• Viet Nam Veterans funded for a one off comprehensive medical examination and a specialist visit.

Trust Fund For Viet Nam Veterans And Families

• Crown endowment of $7 million to create trust fund to provide assistance to Veterans and families.
• Interest from endowment sum will provide for ex-gratia payments to be administered by trustees.
• Exact status, form and criteria of trust yet to determined.

Joint Implementation Group

• Joint Implementation Group representing wide range of agencies will oversee implementation of measures announced today.
• Group will convene in early 2007.

Notes:

1. The term 'prescribed conditions' refers to conditions on the United States Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine "Sufficient evidence of an association with exposure to Agent Orange" list: Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, Soft tissue sarcoma, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and Chloracne.

2. The five "currently accepted conditions" are: Spina bifida, Cleft lip, Cleft palate, Acute myeloid leukaemia and Adrenal gland cancer.


Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Ruataniwha: DOC, Hawke's Bay Council Developer Take Supreme Court Appeal

The Department of Conservation and Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) are appealing to the Supreme Court over a conservation land swap which the Court of Appeal halted. More>>

ALSO:

With NZ's Marama Davidson: Women’s Flotilla Leaves Sicily – Heading For Gaza

Women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey yesterday on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Key Style Of Crisis Management

At Monday’s post Cabinet press conference Key was in his finest wide- eyed “Problem? What problem?” mode. No, there wasn’t really a problem that top MPI officials had been at odds with each other over the meaning of the fisheries policy and how that policy should be pursued... More>>

ALSO:

Mt Roskill: Greens Will Not Stand In Likely Post-Goff By-Election

“The Green Party’s priority is changing the Government in 2017, and as part of that we’ve decided that we won’t stand a candidate in the probable Mt Roskill by-election... This decision shows the Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party is working." More>>

ALSO:

Wellington: Predator Free Capital Plan

Wellington City Council (WCC), the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and NEXT Foundation, today announced a joint collaboration to make Wellington the first Predator Free capital city in the world. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Judith Collins’ Efforts At Self Correction

Thousands of prisoners currently in prison may be entitled to an earlier release than expected – and compensation – because Corrections has incorrectly calculated their term of imprisonment. Unless of course, the government buries its mistakes by changing the law and retro-actively getting itself off the hook… More>>

ALSO:

More Justice & Corrections

Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news