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New Zealand Vets Ask Billions re Agent Orange

Posted May 7, 2007 3:09 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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New Zealand veterans of the Vietnam War reportedly may sue their government for billions of dollars in compensation for injuries allegedly caused by use of the dioxin-containing defoliant Agent Orange.

The suit would focus on allegations that government officials from the time of the war to the present day have ignored their duty to treat and compensate veterans for injuries from the defoliant, according to the Sunday News tabloid published by Fairfax Media. It says veterans have engaged a well-known Australian law firm, Slater & Gordon, to handle the case, in which some $5 billion, in New Zealand dollars, is at stake.

In a separate article, the Sunday News said the planned suit had created consternation in New Zealand's parliament, which had been working on a legislative plan to address the situation.

Agent Orange is blamed for a wide range of health problems, including cancers suffered by veterans and birth defects suffered by their children. However, the New Zealand government has historically denied them compensation and treatment for many such health problems, based on outdated scientific evidence that finds they were not caused by Agent Orange, reports the New Zealand Herald.

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