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Government must do the right thing by Maralinga victims

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 11 Jan 2013

The Greens have called on the Government to ensure victims of the atomic testing at Maralinga are properly compensated after a British court decision overnight shattered hopes for justice.

Greens spokesperson for nuclear policy, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said the hopes of Australians exposed to nuclear testing in the 1950s were dealt a serious blow by another UK court ruling against compensation.

"In 2010 the British courts ruled British veterans who participated in nuclear tests in Australia could not sue the Defence Ministry because they could not prove their illnesses were caused by exposure to radiation. Now, Aboriginal people exposed to the same toxic tests have been told their legal fight is over for the same reason.

"Foreign Minister Bob Carr should be on the phone urging the British Government to deal directly with the victims - outside of court - and compensate them appropriately with an act of grace payment."

Senator Ludlam said the veterans have said the exposure caused cancer, birth defects amongst their children, and other disorders such as anaemia.

"There is no doubt these people were exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation and there is no doubt many of them have suffered greatly, but it is almost impossible to prove concretely that the testing more than 50 years ago caused their illnesses and the illnesses of their children.

"The British Government detonated atomic bombs in this country and should take responsibility for the consequences. People should need only to prove that they were exposed to high levels of radiation as a result of the weapons testing in order to get compensation," he said.


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