Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Social Security Agreement Signed With Belgium

The Government has today further widened the social security safety net by signing a Social Security Agreement with the Kingdom of Belgium.

The new agreement was signed with Her Excellency Mrs Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Belgian Federal Minister and Deputy for Foreign Affairs, in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Philippe, Crown Prince of Belgium, during their official visit to

This agreement will help people in Australia, who may have worked in Belgium but are not Belgian citizens, to receive a Belgian pension. Similarly, it will enable people to claim an Australian pension by counting periods of work in Belgium towards Australia’s residence requirements.

The agreement also includes provisions covering Australia’s Superannuation Guarantee scheme, similar to those that were included in our new agreements with Portugal and the USA, which both started last month.

These provisions will eliminate the need for double contributions when Australians work temporarily in Belgium or when Belgian workers work temporarily in Australia.

This is the fourth new agreement that has been signed since we came into government.

We have also revised seven other agreements, bringing our total number of international social security partnerships to twelve. Those agreements being with Austria, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Portugal, The Netherlands, Spain and the USA. A new agreement with Germany also starts on 1 January 2003.

Australia’s agreement partners pay about 85 000 foreign pensions into Australia, while about 35 000 former Australian residents are paid Australian pensions in those countries.

These agreements give people more freedom to move between Australia and other countries, knowing that their pension rights will be recognised in both countries.

While this is vital in a country like Australia that has relied so much on the contributions of migrants, it also recognises the more recent phenomenon of a mobile international workforce, in which many Australian-born people participate. It is estimated that there are about 800 000 Australians living and working overseas.

This agreement adds to the Howard Government’s continuing efforts to improve and simplify Australia’s social security system.