The circumstances surrounding the production of the McLeod Report raise
many disturbing questions. There is no reason to doubt the motives of the government in commissioning the report. The aim
appears to have been a genuine desire to prevent services to New Zealand veterans from falling behind those available in Australia
and the United States. The government, and New Zealand's veteran community, were entitled to expect something better than
the shoddy research and remarkable ignorance of the subject matter shown by the authors of the McLeod Report.
The authors of the McLeod Report made no attempt to find out where New
Zealanders served during the Vietnam War. They made no attempt to find out where herbicides and pesticides were sprayed during
the Vietnam War. They made no attempt to find out what exposure models are currently in use. They made no attempt to access
freely available information on indirect exposure. By depriving themselves of this information, the authors of the McLeod
Report have disqualified themselves from making any comment on the exposure of New Zealand veterans to herbicides and
pesticides during the Vietnam War.
The McLeod Report claims to have conducted a comprehensive, critical analysis
of a number of epidemiological studies relevant to the health of the children of Vietnam veterans. Yet it is clear that the
authors of the McLeod Report have only read the summaries of those studies. They have not actually read or thoroughly
researched the studies. My own research shows that there is important information buried in the detail of those studies, some
of which contradicts the summaries that have been released to the public. The McLeod Report's failure to find any of
that important information makes it clear that they have not conducted any research into the studies.
The McLeod Report has apparently not bothered to find out that some of
the studies it has cited have been the subject of United States congressional inquiries into malpractice, falsification of
data, misrepresentation of results, and political interference. This is common knowledge to any reader familiar with the topic.
The McLeod Report's failure to find this easily available information casts serious doubts on its research.
The McLeod Report has failed to inform the New Zealand Government that
its own conclusions are out of step with the Agent Orange Scientific Task Force, a body with a significantly higher level
of expertise than that of the McLeod Report. Surely the authors of the McLeod Report are ethically bound to
inform the New Zealand Government of the existence of a significant body of opinion that disagrees with their own.
The McLeod Report has been subjected to a review process at a number of
levels. It has allegedly been subjected to peer review, although the reviewers apparently wish to be anonymous. It has also
been reviewed by the New Zealand Department of Health. (1) This should be a matter of serious concern
to the New Zealand Government. The review process has failed to pick up any of the research failures I have outlined above.
I find this staggering, since these failings are obvious to anybody familiar with this topic.
The McLeod Report has ignored female Vietnam veterans. This is a significant
omission. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has found the rate of birth defects in the children of female Vietnam
veterans to be too high to ignore. It offers treatment for all birth defects in the offspring of female Vietnam veterans that
are not caused by a familial disorder, a birth related injury, or a fetal or neo-natal infirmity with a well-established cause.
Although the number of New Zealand female Vietnam veterans is small, it would have been useful to count them, together with
American and Australian female veterans, to add their statistical weight to the mix.
The McLeod Report apparently wants the New Zealand Government to believe
that somehow New Zealanders in Vietnam were invisible soldiers. They served alongside Australians and Americans, but magically
they were not exposed to the same dangers as their allies. As Senator Daschle noted in his comments on the theory of eternal
recurrence, the Agent Orange deception has been going on far too long, targeting Vietnam veterans and their families. It is
time to bring it to an end. The New Zealand Government should throw the McLeod Report into the rubbish bin, where it
belongs. By doing so, they would send a message to New Zealand's Vietnam veterans that, at least in the eyes of their government,
they are not invisible.