Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Defence Minister Must Come Clean Or Resign

30 January 2001

Graham Capill
Party Leader


Defence Minister Must Come Clean Or Resign In Depleted Uranium Exposure Scandal

“Either Defence Force chiefs, in consultation with the Minister of Defence, are playing politics in an orchestrated campaign to avoid the reality of the situation in the former Yugoslavia, or they are grossly negligent. If neither, one must conclude they are just totally incompetent. The Defence Minister should come clean with what is going on in the investigation into the possible exposure of Kiwi soldiers to depleted uranium. He should also reveal what contact New Zealand forces have had with biological and chemical weapons,” Party Leader Graham Capill said today.

The Leader has recently become aware of two cases that show possible exposure of New Zealand soldiers to depleted uranium in old Yugoslavia. In one case, the serviceman died of cancer after his return to New Zealand. In the other case, the soldier is currently awaiting diagnosis after show leukaemia like symptoms. Unfortunately for servicemen, it can be some considerable time before symptoms appear, and unless a doctor is actually looking for them, they can be passed as belonging to an unrelated cause.

Mr Capill said, “I am deeply concerned that what we are seeing from the New Zealand Defence Force and the Minister of Defence is an orchestrated attempt to cover up the seriousness of the situation. While Christian Heritage welcomes news that a survey is underway of those who served in Yugoslavia, the questionnaire is so inadequate that it raises questions about the genuineness of the desire to find the truth.”

The questionnaire lists 27 possible locations and leaves space on the form for up to 12 others. No map of the country is provided which would allow a far better and more accurate assessment. Recipients are asked whether or not they received any briefings on health and safety aspects of dealing with depleted uranium.

“My concern is that the answer to these questions should be known already by Defence chiefs. They should know where their soldiers have served and what briefings they were given. If they do not, they are totally incompetent and should be fired.

“What is conspicuous by their absence are questions relating to soldiers’ health. The only question that gets remotely close to the subject is ‘To your knowledge, during your deployment did you come into any contact with depleted uranium radiation?’ Why are there not questions about recent visits to medical facilities? Why are they not seeking to see if the symptoms of exposure to deplete uranium are evidencing themselves amongst past servicemen?

“NZDF are aware that not only were its personnel possibly exposed to depleted uranium after the intervention of NATO Forces, but that from day one of New Zealand’s involvement in 1992, its personnel were potentially exposed to a wide variety of biological and chemical weapon agents held by the form JNA (Yugoslavia National Army). The survey suggests NZDF are ignorant of the risk, which is clearly not the case.

“The JNA was well equipped with NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) protective equipment. New Zealand service personnel were not. Although little has been said about the risk of such contamination publicly, NZDF were aware that these nasties were stored in the combat zones and that given the nature of the conflict and the poor storage conditions these stockpile were in, there is a very real chance that some or all of our service personnel who served over there have been exposed to one or more of these other more deadly biological or chemical contaminants.

“It is time the Minister of Defence came clean and told the whole story. He has a duty to initiate a full investigation into the health of our returned service personnel, not hide behind a Clayton’s questionnaire that only reveals what the Defence Force should already know. The Minister owes this to these men and women who have served, and if he continues to downplay the seriousness of the situation he is implicating himself in a cover-up, which must lead to his resignation,” Mr Capill concluded.
The Christian Heritage Party is in the process of seeking all reports relating to any possible depleted uranium, biological and/or chemical exposure risk under the Official Information Act, in an effort to expose what the Defence chiefs know about the situation.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Principals' Federation:
End Of National Standards

Today the Minister of Education announced that the Government has stopped the controversial National Standards system of assessment and declared them an arbitrary measure which did not raise children's achievement as the previous Government intended.

"This is such a win for all the principals who never believed in national standards and who, for the past decade, have argued for what is morally right for our nation's young people and their learning," said Cormick. More>>

 

Public Good: People’s Report On Public Broadcasting And Media Presented

The People’s Commission on Public Broadcasting and Media, was crowdfunded and was informed by an extensive consultation, seeking the views of both those working in Media as well as gathering input both online and in person from ordinary Citizens. More>>

ALSO:

RBNZ To RNZB: PM's Press Conference

Prime Minister Jacinda Adern was joined by Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and Minister for Children Tracey Martin to announce the appointment of Adrian Orr as the new Governor of the Reserve Bank and the name change of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children to ‘Oranga Tamariki - Ministry for Children’. More>>

ALSO:

'Taming Globalised Capital': Why Is Labour Supporting Investment Rules In WTO?

‘Today, we learned the new government has added New Zealand’s name to a proposal designed to lead to foreign investment rules in the WTO at this week’s ministerial meeting in Argentina,’ said Auckland University Professor Jane Kelsey. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politics Of Scaring Voters Back Into Line

Fear has always been a useful mobilising tool in politics… yet in 2017, bogeymen of all shapes and sizes seem to have fallen on hard times. For years, the National party had painted itself as being the only reliable defensive bastion against the terrifying prospect of a centre-left government… More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Drinking Water As A Failure Of Political Leadership

It is almost possible to feel sorry for the Health Ministry in their terrible, no good, very bad week... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages