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Monday, 11 August 2003
Page: 13276

Senator Allison asked the Minister for Family and Community Services, upon notice, on 24 June 2003:

(1) What is the status of the Australian-Hellenic Social Security Agreement between the Greek and Australian Governments.

(2) What negotiations have taken place since the Prime Minister met with the Prime Minister of Greece in Athens in 2002 with regard to the agreement.

(3) Is it the intention of the Government to re-schedule the visit by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Family and Community Services (the Hon. Ross Cameron, MP) to Greece, which was aborted as a result of the Bali bombings; if not, why not.

Senator Vanstone (Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) There is no social security agreement in place between Australia and Greece. While the question of reciprocal arrangements has been discussed for some years, there is not yet any consensus on the nature and scope of such arrangements.

(2) Parliamentary Secretary Ross Cameron was not able to visit Greece in late 2002 as intended. On 13 February 2003 he met with the Greek ambassador to Australia to discuss the positions of the two governments. Further information was subsequently sought and received from Greece, and this is presently under consideration. The government is hopeful that an early resolution can be achieved to this long-standing matter.

(3) It is not yet clear whether a visit to Greece by Mr Cameron is still necessary. This will be determined once the information provided by Greece and the positions of the two governments have been considered.