Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) :
New Zealand First supports the Crown apology to Viet Nam veterans, and endorses the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister and Mr Key. We have long believed in well-overdue measures being adopted to address the serious problems suffered by veterans and their families. It is wisely said that the military do not start wars—politicians do. These men were sent to Viet Nam by politicians. They did their duty; when they returned, their country did not do its duty by them. Today is not a time for recriminations, but we must acknowledge that the official treatment of these soldiers has been a blot on our history. So have been the unconscionable and protracted denials by successive Governments of the effect of Agent Orange on soldiers and their families.
It is a tragedy that so many soldiers who died then, and since, will never hear this apology. We cannot change the past, but we can acknowledge it and try to put things right as best we can. The apology today is a step towards that. We hope that it is accepted in the spirit with which we unreservedly offer it.
Source: parliament.nz | [Volume:647;Page:16443] | Wednesday, 28 May 2008 | Ministerial Statements | Viet Nam Veterans—Crown Apology