Media Release by The Hon Christian Porter MP

New Social Security Agreement for Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand have signed a revised social security agreement reflecting 14 years of changes to each country’s social welfare systems.

The current agreement with New Zealand is one of Australia’s most significant, generating pension flows to Australia of about $263 million a year (at June 2016). At the same time, Australia pays about $71.5 million a year into New Zealand under the agreement and legislated portability provisions.

The revised agreement includes provisions for the increases to the Australian Age Pension age which start from 1 July 2017. Claimants under the Agreement must have reached pension age in both countries, ensuring that the cost-sharing basis of the Agreement is not undermined.

The agreement was signed in Wellington by the Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand, Peter Woolcott and New Zealand’s Minister for Social Development, the Hon Anne Tolley.

“The Agreement will continue to provide support for people who have split their lives between the two countries, providing choices in retirement for individuals who migrate to Australia or New Zealand during or after their working lives,” Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter said.

“Updates to the agreement also clarify that only New Zealand working age residence (defined as residence between age 20 and pension age) can be used to meet the 10 year qualifying residence requirement for Disability Support Pension (DSP) in Australia.

“The previous Agreement allowed recipients to continue to receive payments for absences of up to 26 weeks including for DSP and Carer Payments, which is a longer period than is applicable under domestic portability legislation. Under the new agreement, portability provisions are aligned and tied into current and future changes to social security law.”

The Agreement is expected to commence from 1 July 2017 following the completion of necessary treaty and legislative processes in both countries.

Australia has 30 Social Security Agreements, including with Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the USA.