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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3359

Senator POWELL(1.13) —Mr Deputy President, the Australian Democrats too will be supporting the Social Security Amendment (Reciprocity with Italy) Bill which, as Senator Peter Baume has pointed out, is perhaps the result of Senator Chaney's initiative when he was Minister for Social Security. We congratulate Senator Chaney on initiating the negotiations which have produced a reciprocal agreement between Australia and Italy on social security payments so that each country will provide a share of an individual's pension entitlement. This legislation, when the agreement is ratified by the Italian Government, will be of benefit to people who are currently resident in Italy but are not entitled to an Australian pension, despite the fact that they have resided in Australia for a considerable time in the past; people who stopped contributing to the Italian social security system when they migrated to Australia but are not eligible to claim an Italian pension entitlement; and Italians who are now Australian residents but not eligible for an Australian pension because they have not resided here long enough.

Between 1945 and 1982, almost 450,000 Italians came to Australia as permanent settlers and their contributions have enlivened and enhanced the Australian economy, society and culture. In my own State of Victoria, and in Melbourne in particular, there is ample evidence of the breadth and depth of the rich Italian experience translated into the Australian setting. It is important, of course, that people who come to this country to make such a contribution, to live here, do not suffer any loss of entitlement of income support at the hands of either their country of origin or their newly chosen country of residence. We should note that the agreement with Italy bridged a gap which had existed between the Australian social security system and one of the very different systems which operate in other countries. This legislation will benefit the Italian community. The Australian Democrats support the Government in entering into similar reciprocal arrangements as we have with other countries whose former citizens are now an integral part of Australian society.