Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Government signs first USA – Australia social security agreement

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone today announced the first ever social security agreement between Australia and the United States.

Senator Vanstone signed the agreement today with the US Ambassador, His Excellency the Honourable J. Thomas Schieffer, in a move that will protect the social security rights of the many thousands of people who have lived and worked in both countries.

“This agreement is a huge step forward in Australia’s move to secure social security agreements with countries around the globe,” Senator Vanstone said.

“This is very exciting for us because there are so many residents of Australia and the United States who have lived and worked in both countries.

“These agreements help people get access to Australian benefits and foreign pensions which they would otherwise simply not be entitled to. They ensure that countries contribute fairly to the pensions of people who have spent part of their working life in a particular country.

“In the last year the Federal Government has signed, implemented or revised social security agreements with Austria, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain.

“Australia also has existing agreements with Cyprus, Ireland, and Malta,” Senator Vanstone said.

Senator Vanstone said those countries currently paid about $370 million per year into Australia, while Australia paid $143 million a year in pensions into those countries.”

“It is also significant that the agreement with the USA, and those recently signed with the Netherlands and Portugal, will include exemptions from Australia’s Superannuation Guarantee scheme.

“These provisions will eliminate the need for double contributions for workers sent temporarily between Australia and those countries.

“Australians sent to work temporarily overseas will remain subject to Australia’s Superannuation Guarantee and will not have to make contributions to the other countries’ social security systems.

“Similarly, workers sent temporarily to Australia from those countries will continue to be covered by their home countries’ social security systems, and will not have to pay under our Superannuation Guarantee arrangements,” Senator Vanstone said.