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Social security negotiations with Greece a step closer

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f Minister for Social Security Senator Graham Richardson~X\ 5/


Negotiations on a new Social Security agreement with Greece should be able to start soon.

Senator Richardson, the Minister for Social Security, said today that one of the last stumbling blocks to starting negotiations had been removed.

"When I met the Greek Minister, Dr Giannakou, in Athens last year, I asked for two things," Senator Richardson said.

"The first was a written assurance that the Greek Government would let Greek pensions be paid into Australia without restriction. I also wanted rapid progress on negotiations as soon as that assurance was provided," he said.

"When we had that written assurance from the Greek Government, I said I would be prepared to authorise official negotiations on a new agreement.

"I also gave an undertaking that if these negotiations proved constructive and real progress was being made towards a new agreement, I would consider recommending that payments of Australian wives and Class B Widows pensions in Greece be

continued. This would be pending implementation of an agreement," the Minister said.

Senator Richardson said he had now received a letter from Dr Giannakou confirming that the promised Government to Government assurance would soon be made available to the Australian Embassy in Athens. It would state that Greece would pay pensions into Australia without any financial or administrative


"So the first stumbling block to negotiations is nearly removed.

"In anticipation of the assurance from Greece, I have authorised a visit to Athens by an Australian Social Security delegation in the second week of May," Senator Richardson said.

Senator Richardson said it was important for the Greek . ' * Australian community to realise that negotiations would be worthless without the assurance he had sought on behalf of the community here. - .


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” It is disappointing that we have had to wait 6 months for that assurance. I hope that we will get it soon and that good progress can be made in the negotiations. I have written to Dr Giannakou reminding her of my undertaking that if the discussions show an early agreement is possible, I will consider recommending continued payment of Australian wives and widows Class B pensions in Greece, pending implementation of a

new agreement I have also given this undertaking to the Greek community.

The Minister explained that the negotiations would be quite technical and would concentrate on how the Australian and Greek Social Security schemes could be coordinated under an agreement.

Senator Richardson pointed out that both countries had reformed their social security systems in recent years. This meant that a new agreement would need to reflect these changes so that those people who would benefit from the agreement would get the best possible coverage.

Minister’s office contact: Gregg Borschmann - (06) 277 7560 (w) Departmental contact: David Murdoch - (06) 250 2479 (w)

Ϊ 8 APR 1991 GR9/91