Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Australia Pursuing Four New International Social Security Agreements

As a priority the Howard Government will seek to finalise new social security agreements with Croatia, Norway, Slovenia and Switzerland, as part of its continuing efforts to improve and simplify Australia’s social security system. To deliver on these agreements, the Government has provided $6.5 million over four years.

More than 4,000 people, who have spent part of their working life in Australia and one of these countries, will benefit from these four reciprocal agreements. Many more people will benefit over time.

These new agreements will represent an important extension of the social security safety net for Australia’s migrant community and for people who have lived and worked overseas.

The Commonwealth is committed to extending its social security agreements with other nations because agreements allow people to move between Australia and other countries with greater freedom, knowing that their pension rights are recognised in both countries.

Under these agreements people can combine certain periods of Australian residence and periods of contributions in the other country in order to qualify for part pensions from both countries. Agreements ensure that both countries pay their fair share of retirement costs.

Subject to negotiations, agreements with Croatia, Norway and Switzerland will also include provisions covering Australia’s Superannuation Guarantee scheme.

These provisions will eliminate the need for double contributions when Australians are sent to work temporarily in those countries or when foreign workers from those countries are sent temporarily to Australia.

Australian workers sent to those countries will be only subject to Australia’s Superannuation Guarantee, while workers from Croatia, Norway and Switzerland will continue to be covered by their home country’s system.

Australia already has similar reciprocal agreements with Austria, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Portugal, The Netherlands and Spain. New agreements with Germany and the USA have also been signed and are due to commence later this year.

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