Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

New Social Security Agreement for Aussie and Kiwi pensions

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone today announced the signing of a new social security agreement between Australia and New Zealand that comes into effect from 1 July 2002.

Senator Vanstone said the agreement was signed in Canberra with the New Zealand High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr Simon Murdoch, and replaced the Agreement that had been in place since 1995.

“Older Australians and New Zealanders who receive an Australian age pension, New Zealand superannuation or veterans’ pensions can be comforted in the knowledge that they can choose to live in either country and still receive their payments,” Senator Vanstone said.

“I am pleased we have been able to finalise this Agreement which comes as a result of very successful negotiations between Australia and New Zealand and has the full support of both Governments.

“The Agreement clearly reflects the Government’s high regard for those people who have contributed greatly to their countries all their working lives and that we want to ensure they continue to receive the financial support, whether they live in Australia or New Zealand.”

Senator Vanstone said in the first year of the new agreement an estimated 10,000 people would benefit with numbers steadily increasing in coming years.

“The Government has worked hard to extend and renegotiate other international social security agreements, including those with, Austria, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain – a new agreement was signed with Germany late last year.”

The new Agreement signed today with New Zealand brings arrangements into line with the shared responsibility policy that Australia also has with these other countries.

The new agreement will cover Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment in Australia, and NZ Superannuation, Veterans’ Pension and some categories of Invalid’s Benefit in New Zealand.

“We want to make sure that Australians living overseas who have worked hard for themselves and this country are recognised for their contributions and receive the maximum benefit possible,” Senator Vanstone said.

“The agreements are a prime example of the Howard Government’s approach to providing income support for those in need and for recognising those who have contributed to their homeland, regardless of where they now live.”