Efforts to secure Act Of Grace payments for the victims of British nuclear testing will be stepped up after the British Government's disappointing response, Senator Scott Ludlam said today.
"I call on Foreign Minister Bob Carr to raise this proposal directly with his UK counterparts.
"Because of difficulties victims of the British nuclear testing were facing in the courts, I wrote to British Foreign Secretary William Hague twice making the case for ex gratia payments to Australians exposed to British nuclear testing in the 1950s and ‘60s.
"The British Minister for Defence Personnel Welfare and Veterans Mark Francois has now responded by washing his hands of the deadly legacy his government left in Australia, paradoxically arguing that because the victims of nuclear testing could not prove in court their higher rate of radiation-related illness was caused by the nuclear testing, they would not receive Act Of Grace payments.
"The point of Act of Grace payments would be to circumvent the inappropriate burden of proof of causation being imposed on the victims - yet Minister Francois applies the same utterly unreasonable standard that has hampered attempts to secure justice through the courts.
"Australian nuclear veterans are pursuing the matter through the Human Rights Commission and strongly support this action, but they should not have expend this ongoing time and effort to get what is rightfully theirs.
"The Australian Government must bring diplomatic pressure to bear on the British Government to do their duty and compensate the people exposed to radiation; to make amends and to ensure they and their families can afford medical care."