Former Australian servicemen and women who were exposed to radiation from nuclear bombs have welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to give them a veterans’ Gold Card.
The Gold Card, which covers health costs, had not been available to those sent to Hiroshima in the 1940s and those who were at British test sites in Western Australia and South Australia.
But that is set to change, with $133 million allocated for survivors in the federal budget.
Speaking in Mandurah, the Member for Canning and former SAS captain, Andrew Hastie, said there was a high cancer rate among the RAN sailors sent to the Montebello Islands off the coast of Western Australia.
“These men worked on the islands only four years after the first atomic test with no protective gear,” he said.
“Many were on [the] deck of their ships and fully exposed during a subsequent test, in very close proximity to the explosion.
“Of the surviving 51 members who have been surveyed, 43 per cent have had some kind of cancer. Of the 28 who have already passed on, 14 have died from cancer.