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Wednesday, 10 February 1999
Page: 2439


Dr Theophanous asked the Minister representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, upon notice, on 8 December 1998:

(1) To what stage have negotiations on a social security agreement between Australia and Turkey proceeded.

(2) What further obstacles or problems remain to be overcome before the agreement can be concluded.

(3) When is the agreement likely to be concluded.

(4) What are the Government's intentions on concluding the agreement.


Mr Truss (Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) —The Minister for Family and Community Services has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) The first round of negotiations on a social security agreement between Australia and Turkey was held in Ankara in May 1994 when Australia gave the Turkish delegation a draft agreement to consider.

A second round of negotiations was planned to be held in Australia in October 1995. However, Turkey was unable to visit at that time and there was no progress in this matter until July 1998.

On 13 July 1998, the Embassy of Turkey in Canberra wrote to the then Department of Social Security via the Department of Foreign Affairs expressing a wish to expedite the negotiation process for the social security agreement. Turkey also requested an updated draft agreement.

A draft model social security agreement was sent to Turkey on 4 September 1998. Australia proposed that due to reforms in the social security systems of both countries a comprehensive information exchange should take place, in preparation for restarting negotiations.

Officials in Turkey have not yet responded to Australia's proposal.

(2) There are no particular obstacles or problems that Australia is aware of. As mentioned above Australia is awaiting a reply from Turkey to Australia's proposal for resuming negotiations.

(3) It is not possible to indicate when an agreement might be concluded.

Officials in Turkey have not yet responded to Australia's proposal that due to reforms in the social security systems of both countries a comprehensive information exchange should take place, in preparation for restarting negotiations.

Past experience indicates that it can take between 2 to 3 years from the date negotiations commence to the date an agreement is signed and implemented.

(4) The Government will wait for a response from Turkey about Australia's proposal for the resumption of talks.