The current Official History of the Agent Orange controversy is fatally flawed and unjustly insults the veterans who campaigned for the Repatriation system to acknowledge it harmfulness.
The present Official History omits findings of the Agent Orange Royal Commission supporting the veterans’ case. In the first place, the history omits a Royal Commission finding that, under the standard of proof prescribed by Repatriation law, there were two categories of cancer attributable to exposure to Agent Orange. The history also omits the Royal Commission finding that the Department of Veterans Affairs purposely disobeyed Repatriation law in not allowing veterans the prescribed ‘benefit of the doubt’.
The history goes so far as to accuse the campaigning veterans of dishonesty and greed.
Of course, the veterans turned out to be right about the harmfulness of Agent Orange. Their behaviour, far from being dishonest and motivated by greed, was a fine example of the ANZAC tradition of veterans looking after their comrades-in-arms.
So it is wonderful news that after years of our campaigning, the Australian War Memorial Council has agreed to commission a new study titled: Medical Legacies of South East Asian Conflicts – Vietnam War.
Dr Peter Yule of Melbourne University has been chosen. It is estimated the task will take him four years.
It remains to be seen whether the new history redresses these omissions and insults. We can only hope so.
The new volume will include other medical legacies such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.