Extracts: Peters At Public Meeting In Ashburton
11 June 1999
EXTRACTS FROM SPEECH BY RT. HON. WINSTON PETERS, TO A PUBLIC MEETING IN ASHBURTON THIS MORNING.
"This week a report was released about the health of the children of Vietnam veterans, who were exposed to Agent Orange, and the men who were sent to the Pacific to watch nuclear testing.
Some of these veterans and their dependents had been suffering ill-health for many years.
This report was limited because of the time and resources that were made available to the committee members who prepared it.
As a result the report was inconclusive.
Now it is being sent to a new department - which hasn't even been set up.
This is simply shelving the issue.
The committee could not find any long term health hazards in nuclear explosions and the defoliants that contain dioxin.
This dioxin is the same chemical that is causing all the fuss in Europe at the moment and has resulted in a ban on certain products from Belgium!
The nuclear veterans were promised $200 thousand to take a class action against the British government when we formed the coalition.
Now they have even been refused
that money by a mean spirited government.
New Zealand First renews its commitment to both these groups of veterans made at the last election, and which was being implemented at the time the coalition ended.
The nuclear veterans will be given war veteran status by New Zealand First after the next election.
We will finance the first $200 thousand dollars of a class action against the British government.
Following the election we will set up a properly constituted inquiry into the plight of the Vietnam veterans and their families.
We will make particular use of the material already available to us in respect of the United States and Australian government actions.
It's wrong that we lag behind those two governments and turn a blind eye to our veterans' legitimate concerns.
There are other health matters of serious concern.
We brought in free medical care for the under sixes - and we learned to our shame this week that we are heading for a measles epidemic because children are not being immunised.
We already have a meningitis epidemic.
These are Third World problems happening in New Zealand.
Yet, the Health Funding Authority, which dishes out the money is spending $7.5 million on shifting to flash new offices in central Wellington.
Fifty of the staff get salaries of more than a hundred thousand dollars a year.
Their chairs cost a thousand dollars each.
This is YOUR money.
Why don't the health bureaucrats spend it on HEALTH?"