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Tuesday, 2 October 1984
Page: 1061

(Question No. 1098)

Senator Kilgariff asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 24 August 1984:

(1) Are visitors to Australia under working holiday agreements with Great Britain, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands eligible to receive social security unemployment benefits; if so, can such benefits be claimed five weeks after arrival in Australia.

(2) What is the number, if any, of overseas visitors who are currently drawing unemployment benefits under working holiday agreements.

(3) Does the Minister for Social Security consider this number to be an abuse of the working holiday scheme; if so, what action does the Minister propose to take to ensure that abuses will not occur, while still supporting the spirit of working holiday agreements.

Senator Grimes —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) It is generally not possible for visitors to Australia under working holiday arrangements to receive unemployment benefit. However in some exceptional circumstances unemployment benefit may be paid-in these cases there is no limitation precluding payment within the first 5 weeks after arrival in Australia.

In general, a person can only qualify for unemployment benefit either by having resided in Australia for 12 months immediately preceding claim or by satisfying the department that s/he is likely to remain permanently in Australia.

It would be highly unlikely that a person visiting Australia under the working holiday agreements with Japan, Canada or the Netherlands could satisfy either of these requirements.

Because of the existence of a reciprocal social security agreement with the United Kingdom the situation in regard to working holiday visitors to Australia from Great Britain differs somewhat from those from Japan, Canada and the Netherlands. Under that agreement residence in the United Kingdom can be used to meet the requirement for 12 months prior residence in Australia. In these cases, however, the grant of unemployment benefit is not assured.

In any case where a working holiday maker satisfies the requirement for Australian residence, unemployment benefit can be granted only when all other qualifying criteria are satisfied-ie the person must be unemployed, capable of and willing to undertake suitable work, and taking all reasonable steps to find such work. Thus, people merely holidaying rather than genuinely seeking work cannot qualify.

It should be noted that the reciprocal agreement equally assists Australians on working holidays in the United Kingdom to satisfy the residential qualification for that country's unemployment benefit.

(2) No statistics are kept on the number of unemployment beneficiaries who are in Australia under working holiday schemes but it is believed the numbers would be very small.

(3) No.