Class Action Not Best Way To Help Vets

  • Don McKinnon
War Pensions

War Pensions Minister Don McKinnon said that the Government is of the view that funding the NZ Nuclear Test Veterans Association to bring a class action against the United Kingdom Government over nuclear tests performed on Christmas Island is not the best way to help veterans involved.

"Now that the Coalition Agreement is no longer in force, the Government believes that we can more usefully assist veterans by assessing the health status of veterans' families. For that reason, we instituted the Prime Ministerial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the health status of the children of veterans who served in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972 and all navy personal involved in supporting the British atmospheric tests at Christmas and Malden Islands in the period 1957 -58.

'That Inquiry, led by former Governor General Sir Paul Reeves, is due to report shortly to the Prime Minister, and we will await the recommendations of the Inquiry.

"The Government believes that the current Inquiry is definitely the best way of seeing what help, if any, is needed by veterans and their families, and is far more practical than tying up money in a legal action that could take years, and has no guarantee of success."

Mr McKinnon said that, to the best of his knowledge, the Government of New Zealand has never funded New Zealand citizens to take legal actions against foreign Governments.