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Tuesday, 29 August 1972
Page: 510

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - Unfortunately I am not in a position to give Senator

Mulvihill the names of the 28 countries which the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) had informed me he was in the course of negotiating with in order to give effect to the arrangements contained in the Social Services Bill (No. 3) which was passed earlier this year. I shall ensure that the Minister receives Senator Mulvihill^ comments so that he can supply me or Senator Mulvihill, as he determines, with the information which has been sought.

As to the other aspects of Senator Mulvihills remarks, I think it must be recognised that the details of what arrangements can be made with particular countries depend upon the outcome of these negotiations. He will recall that the intention of the Government when it introduced the legislation earlier this year was to give effect to 3 principles. The first was to ensure that the widest possible benefits would be available to persons who had been resident in Australia and to ensure that persons who had lived their lives here, worked here and therefore might be supposed to have some call upon the Australian community would be able to receive pension benefits if, after a certain time, they went back to the country in which they wanted to spend their retiring years. The second principle was to ensure that the greatest reciprocity possible was available in the negotiations which were engaged in. I think it is in this area in particular that Senator Mulvihill^ real query lies. I think it must depend upon the arrangements which the Minister can make with all countries which are prepared to enter into reciprocal arrangements to ensure that the people from those countries who are living in Australia and who may intend to go back home will be able to receive pensions and that, likewise, the people from those countries who may have an entitlement to pensions will be able to receive those pensions when they come to Australia.

Of course, the third consideration which the Government had in mind was, as far as possible, to protect the Australian taxpayer against the possible abuses of the system that could occur if people came to Australia for a short length of time to get the utmost benefit and, having got that benefit, left this country. It is important that there be a reciprocity and this is the whole approach of the Government. I have set out those things simply because they very shortly state, I think, the Government's intentions in legislation with which I know everyone agrees in principle, even though there might be variations which honourable senators would like to give effect to. Senator Mulvihill's concern in this area is well known. The Minister is aware of it and I am quite sure he will supply Senator Mulvihill with as much information as he can and as soon as he can.

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