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Howard And Karamanlis Sign Social Security Agreement

This is the joint press conference between Prime Minister John Howard and Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis.

Howard announced that Australia had signed a Social Security Agreement with Greece, which will provide improved access to age and retirement benefits, allowing people who live in either country to claim their entitlement to pensions from both countries.

Australia has committed $165 million over four years for the Agreement.

  • Listen to Howard and Karamanlis (17m)

Statement from Prime Minister John Howard on the Social Security Agreement Between Australia and Greece.

I am pleased to announce the signing today of a new Social Security Agreement between Australia and Greece. The signing of the Agreement is a significant achievement between the two countries, which enjoy a close and constructive relationship based on strong community ties. In recognition of the importance of this relationship, the Australian Government has committed $165 million over four years for the Agreement.

This Agreement will provide improved access to age and retirement benefits for people in Australia and Greece, allowing people who live in either country to claim their entitlement to pensions from both countries. After the Agreement enters into force, former residents of Australia living in Greece will be able to claim an Australian Age Pension for the first time, with periods of insurance in Greece to be counted towards the residence requirements for Australian Age Pension. Similarly, many Greek-Australians living here will be able to claim a Greek old age pension, with periods of Australian residence being taken into account in working out eligibility for the Greek benefits.

In addition, the Agreement will reduce costs for businesses operating in both countries by removing the requirement for compulsory contributions to be paid into both countries’ superannuation/pension systems in respect of temporarily seconded workers. Compulsory contributions will only be paid into the superannuation/pension systems of the home country.

The Agreement will take effect following the completion of all necessary treaty and legislative processes in both countries and once all necessary administrative arrangements have been finalised. At this stage this is expected to occur some time in 2008. Centrelink will write to all its Greek-Australian customers next year and will liaise with Greek-Australian organisations to ensure people know when they can apply for pensions under the new arrangements and how to go about doing so.

Large numbers of Greeks migrated to Australia during the 1950s and 1960s and today there are around 125,000 Greek born people living in Australia. Around 50,000 people in both countries are expected to claim a pension from Australia or Greece after the Agreement commences.

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