RAAF victims wait long time for payout
By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au
That was how one of Terry Harrison's fellow deseal-reseal victims reacted after hearing that they may be entitled to a $40,000 payout from the federal government.
Years ago Mr Harrison climbed inside the fuel tank of an F-111 fighter jet to "do his job.'
Now it has been officially found the work resulted in lifelong medical problems for Mr Harrison and his colleagues.
Nine of the people who carried out the work during the 1980s have died as a result of exposure to chemicals they used in the tanks.
Some of their conditions included cancer, depression and memory loss.
'What about those who have died, are their lives only worth $10,000 or $40,000?' an angry Mr Harrison told The Observer yesterday.
The government yesterday released a statement that those who suffered the ill effects of the RAAF Deseal Reseal program would be eligible for either a $10,000 or $40,000 payout.
Half an hour after the news was released, the website Mr Harrison uses to keep in touch with others in a similar situation, www.gooptroop.com, was flooded with angry responses.
'We've waited forever for this, we've been watching it like a hawk,' Mr Harrison explained.
'We're not happy.'
Veteran Affairs Minister DeAnne Kelly yesterday told The Observer the payment was "not a compensation payout.
'They are still entitled to seek compensation through the usual means, this is a payment to recognise the work they did and the unique working environment they worked in,' Ms Kelly said.
However Mr Harrison does not buy it.
'De-Anne Kelly probably hasn't even seen a fuel tank ? she was offered the chance but knocked it back, so what would she know what we did or what the work was like?' Mr Harrison said.
Mr Harrison must undergo regular medical treatment as a result of his condition.
He suffers dizzy spells, outbreaks of lesions, headaches, mood swings and memory loss.
'It affects our families as well,' Mr Harrison said.
'Marriages are breaking up and people are losing jobs as a result of this.'