There is a new bill coming before Parliament next week. It is very short and is designed to deal with a flaw which has been discovered in section 9 of the Veterans’ Support Act 2014 (VSA14). This is the section which authorises the Minister to declare a deployment to be qualifying operational service – so those who have taken part in it become eligible for support and services from Veterans’ Affairs.

You can read the bill here: www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2019/0139/latest/LMS203377.html

While section 9 has always been interpreted to mean the Minister can declare deployments at any time – before, during or after they’ve taken place – the law does not specifically spell out that authority. The new bill (the Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill) will make it clear that this can be done.

There have been 14 retrospective declarations made since 2015 (that is declarations that designated deployments which had already finished to be qualifying operational service). The veterans who gained entitlements under these declarations do not have to be concerned. The new legislation will make it clear that these are legal and they will all stand. No one will lose their entitlements. The amendment bill will also clear the way for Veterans’ Affairs to continue the work programme which got underway last year to review deployments which had not previously been considered qualifying operational service. This is likely to mean more veterans will qualify for the services and support of Veterans’ Affairs.

We suggest you keep an eye on the Parliament website as there may be an opportunity to make a submission to Parliament about this bill.  If you have any specific questions, please contact Veterans’ Affairs at the following address:   veterans@nzdf.mil.nz

Comment – Be aware this does not include any deployments between 1966 and 1975 and will only cover those deployments currently under review since 1974.  These deployments can be accessed by clicking HERE

Veterans’ Affairs has stated that deployments prior to 1974 already have Veterans status and, as such, those deployments are entitled to Qualifying Routine Service. Which, entitles those service personnel to nothing more than what Joe Bloggs in the street would receive under ACC entitlements.  This is a cop-out!.

CDF’s review of deployments from 1966 to 1975 is scheduled for completion by 30 June 2019, and CDF will advise the Minister of Defence [MOD] of the review outcome sometime during the 2019 third quarter.  Note that, this does not for one moment mean that CDF will recommend to MOD that deployments from 1966 to 1974 should be recognised as Qualifying Operational Service but we consider as an Association that taking into account all the supporting documentation we have provided that CDF will too reach this conclusion.

So where does this proposed change to the legislation leave us?   Does it enable the Minister to recognise deployments prior to 1974?  We have a very short window in which to act and engage your local Member of Parliament to ensure the legislation is broad enough to cater for approval of deployments prior to 1974. 

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  1. Jacqueline Elliott says:

    Thank you for you very informative email.
    I request the scope of the deployments actually be taken further back to 1958? I ask as I have also discovered an anomaly with my fathers service in the New Zealand Navy in 1962 in the Pacific proving Grounds where he was involved in one/some or all of Nuclear Test Operations Hardtack i, Hardtack ii, Dominic and Fishbowl by virtue of his ship HMNZS Royalist being in the vicinity of Johnston Island, in transit at the same time as the nuclear detonations.

    I am just trying to obtain further records to add to the evidential material I have just compiled to take my own case to the Minister Hon Ron Mark, for consideration as a qualifying deployment as he is completely missed out of the criteria for the current special service medals for Nuclear Test families. He got no medals in recognition or other veterans benefits, nor does Mum.

    The operation Grapple Special Service medal covers select dates from 08/11/1957 – 23/09/1958. The next Qualifying Service is Mururoa Atoll 22/07/1973 – 28/07/1974. Missing are Johnston Island 02/10/1962 to 15/10/1962.

    While NZ defence personal and vessels may not have been directly deployed there, those on the HMNZS Royalist were under orders to muster on deck and observe Nuclear detonations as was procedure for any other offshore vessels in the test vicinity during the Nuclear detonations.

    If the proposed dates scope could include 1958 – 1974 I would be able to have my fathers dates of service included, and it would save our family alot of stress in appealing to the Minister separately to the bill amendment process, for an amendment, which we are in the process of preparing to do.

    Dad served with up to 550 other crew on that ship tour from NZ to San Francisco – Vancouver – then through the Pacific Proving Grounds on the return to New Zealand in 1962 and I have no idea how many other NZ Vessels were also present during that active nuclear test period. All should be eligible for consideration for a medal and formal recognition and veterans benefits given the nuclear radiation issues that have arisen.
    I look forward to your response and will give a formal submission to the bill amendment process.

    Many thanks Jacqueline Elliott.

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