Inquest answers demanded:families of deceased herbicide sprayer

November 12, 2003 - Greens (WA) Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC has supported demands by the family of former Aboriginal herbicide sprayer Cyril Hunter for an inquest into his death.

'It is now 20 years since this young man was taken from his community at age 33, and for all that time his family have been demanding a formal inquiry into the cause of death,' Mr Chapple said.

Lucy Marshall today intends to confront the State Coroner in Broome and demand an inquest into her son's death.

'Cyril was a healthy young man, the first of the APB's workers to die, and it is obscene that the State has thus far not seen fit to inquire into the probable work-related poisoning of one of its employees, despite 2,4,5-T exposure being listed in his medical history in post-mortem medical documents,' Mr Chapple said.

'The State employed these men under an Aboriginal employment programme, may have exposed them to lethal levels of agricultural chemicals, and then is alleged to have abandoned them to 20 years of silence and bureaucratic doublespeak,' Mr Chapple said.

On a recent visit to Derby and Kununurra, Mr Chapple met surviving former workers and their families who are still seeking justice and fair compensation after two decades.

'These people believe the Government is simply waiting for them to die,' Mr Chapple said. 'I think most people would agree that you are entitled to answers, compensation and competent medical help if you are poisoned by a Government agency.'

'I am horrified that in 2003 they are still having to deal with stalled workers compensation claims and one inquiry after another. The Gallop Government started out with good intentions, but the proof of their commitment to these people will be in the resources mobilised to help their cause.'

'At the very least, the State Coroner should resolve to answer the very serious questions raised by the untimely death of Cyril Hunter. I am distressed that his mother should have to take matters in her own hands, but stand behind her commitment to the truth,' Mr Chapple concluded.

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