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Govt's PR stunt belittles Agent Orange concerns

Wednesday, 26 January 2005

Govt's PR stunt belittles Agent Orange concerns

Green MP Sue Kedgley has labelled the Government's "release" today of documents relating to Agent Orange as "a PR stunt".

"This is an attempt by the Government to sideline the very real concerns of Kiwi veterans and ordinary Vietnamese people about the possible export from New Zealand of ingredients used to make Agent Orange," Ms Kedgley, Green Health Spokesperson said.

"Defence Minister Mark Burton is pretending to be open and transparent by making a big song and dance today about 'releasing' official papers relating to the Agent Orange issue.

"However, the fact is that the vast majority of these papers were already in the public arena, so Mr Burton has not been 'releasing' anything of significance today. Rather, he has simply reheated old, inconclusive information in a vain attempt to spin a decidedly uncomfortable issue for the Government."

Ms Kedgley, who was in Vietnam earlier this month to speak to an international conference about Agent Orange, is calling on the Government to release any and all information it holds - whether Cabinet papers, memoranda, policy advice documents, or communication between and within government agencies- about the issue of Agent Orange.

"It is only when every last piece of paper is released that the full truth will emerge and New Zealand veterans will be able to have peace of mind. Such full disclosure is also vital if New Zealand's reputation in Vietnam is to be in any way restored.

"How can we trust the word of government officials when there has been a history of procrastination and obfuscation over this issue? We need to see all of the papers ourselves so we can make up our own minds."

ENDS

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