Australian Air Force crews "at war" with Veterans' Affairs over compensation

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Friday, August 19, 2005 The Australian Federal Government has revealed today that it is going to give A$21 million (US $15.76 million) as compensation to approximately 600 former RAAF maintenance workers, who where exposed to highly toxic chemicals while working on the fuel tanks of the nation's F-111 fleet.

Under the government's proposal, depending on the amount of exposure, a worker can expect to receive between A$10,000 and A$40,000 (US $7,500 - $30,000) to help cope with the side effects. The aircraft maintenance program started in the 1970s and was suspended in the late 1990s when the former workers started to show signs of medical problems ranging from memory loss to neurological problems.

The F-111 Deseal/Reseal Support Group responded to the government's package with anger. The Group's president Ian Fraser said "A$40,000 for a ruined life is simply not enough ... We've already got people who have died, who are dying, people who have lost their homes."

He went on to describe that his group, which supports the workers and contractors who where based at Amberley Air Base, was "at war" with Veterans' Affairs Minister De-Anne Kelly.