Australian news, and some related international items

Maralinga nuclear compensation cases blocked by Bob Hawke when PM

text-from-the-archivesHawke government schemed to stymie Maralinga nuclear test compensation, cabinet documents reveal  PETER JEAN POLITICAL REPORTER THE ADVERTISER JAN 1, 2015  THE statute of limitations was invoked by the Hawke Government to prevent hundreds of compensation actions being pursued in court by veterans of British nuclear tests in Australia.

Government documents from 1988 and 1989 released by the National Archives of Australia reveal that cabinet decided to try and invoke time-limit rules to fight court compensation actions launched after 1988.

But cabinet did agree to voluntarily compensate people with leukaemia or multiple myeloma that could be linked to the tests in the 1950s and 60s.

The tests were conducted at Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia and the Monte Bello Islands in Western Australia.

The government decided in 1984 not to use the statute of limitations to try and prevent people from suing but later changed its mind.

In a cabinet submission, Primary Industries and Energy Minister John Kerin said it had been estimated that paying $870,000 each in compensation to about 50 people suffering from cancer would cost $43 million.

He successfully recommended that the government fight court cases lodged after 1988 but offer to pay compensation in cases assessed as genuine.

“Where a claim is not considered to have merit (either because it is fraudulent or the plaintiff’s illness could not have resulted from participation in the tests) then no settlement would be offered and the claim would be defended,’’ Mr Kerin said in a cabinet briefing.

More than 60 years after the nuclear testing program began, hundreds of veterans are still fighting for what they consider to be adequate compensation.

Cabinet documents from 1989 also reveal steps taken by the Australian Government to ensure that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s administration could not downplay the environmental impact of the nuclear tests.

A cabinet memo said it was crucial that the UK Government remained “locked in’’ to environmental studies so that approaches could be made to if for compensation.

“The identification of reputable UK firms, agencies and experts with the study program, UK Government support for the program and the pre-eminence of the (Technical Expert Group) membership ensure that the UK cannot distance itself from the outcome,” the memo said.

View the cabinet documents from 1988 and 1989 at

December 9, 2016 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, history, weapons and war

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