Fight for justice

Gareth McKnightSound Telegraph

Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby delivered a passionate speech in State Parliament last week calling for the fair treatment of veterans who were exposed to radiation in the 1950s off the north-west coast of WA.

Australian sailors, including Mr Whitby’s father Ray, were sent to the Montebello Islands after British atomic bomb testing, with many suffering dire health conditions in the aftermath.

While those exposed to radiation between October 3, 1952, and June 19, 1958, are entitled to the veterans’ gold card, others who visited the atomic sites outside this period have not been extended the same benefits.

Although veterans who were exposed to radiation outside this period have been officially recognised by the Federal Government and been issued a medallion of appreciation, their medical expenses have not been covered through gold card entitlement.

Mr Whitby said his father and many of his shipmates had had ongoing health concerns and a gold card should be the least the sailors could expect.

“If we don’t treat veterans fairly, how can men and women in uniform today have any faith that they will be treated fairly in years to come?” he said.

“Now my father and his surviving mates just want to be treated like other veterans of British nuclear testing.

“Today I call on our West Australian Veterans Issues Minister (Peter Tinley) to continue the fight on their behalf for justice and fairness.”

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