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Thursday, 1 June 1972
Page: 2478

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - The Government understands that the Opposition will support the Bill. I know that it is the wish of the Senate that I should be brief. So, in opposing the amendment the Government says simply that it is proposed by this Bill that pensioners may remain eligible for a pension when they leave Australia, but only in those cases where there is a reciprocal agreement with the country to which the pensioner goes to reside. We want to avoid a situation in which people come to Australia and after 10 years residence, having acquired a pension, go back to their country of origin. That could happen. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) has described that as amounting to a plundering of the Australian Treasury. We feel that it is possible to make agreements so that there is reciprocity. That is the objective that we have in mind. It is unreasonable to suppose that agreements cannot be arrived at.

The Minister is pursuing his inquiries. He has made contact already with representatives of Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Yugoslavia. He will be pursuing discussions with representatives of those countries. We already have reciprocal agreements with Britain and New Zealand and, naturally, this proposal has been referred to the High Commissioners of those countries. Also Mr Wentworth has contacted representatives of Canada, Switzerland and Israel and has spoken with their high commissioners or ambassadors. Rcently he had discussions with the Ambassador of the United States of America. This matter is being pursued diligently even though the Bill has not yet been passed. Having regard to the ground of principle, which I think is a valid ground of principle, and the fact that we have an indefatigable Minister for Social Services, I am sure that he will use his utmost endeavours to ensure that we have these agreements. The Government opposes the Opposition's amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Senator Mulvihill - I called for a division on the amendment. I was trying to establish the majority view of the Senate. I wanted a division, if that was the wish also of other honourable senators. I did not know whether they wanted a division. I wanted to get the consensus of the Senate as to what the vote would be.

Hie TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Wilkinson) - Order! I regret that I did not hear any request for a division. I was waiting to see whether there was a request for a division. I did not hear one so I did not ask for the bells to be rung.

Senator Mulvihill - It was partly my fault.

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