Reports that the long-awaited Work and Holiday visa agreement – allowing young Greeks and Australians to work in each other’s countries – was virtually signed, sealed and delivered may be wide of the mark, after Neos Kosmos was told this week by an Australian Immigration Department spokesperson that elements of the deal are still being worked out.
“They’re still working on the details,” said Immigration Chief of Staff Ms Ann Brandon-Baker, who accompanied Minister Scott Morrison to a meeting last Thursday with Greece’s ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Mr Haris Dafaranos.
While news that the agreement’s minutiae is still being reviewed, may not be good news for the many potential applicants for the program, Ms Brandon Baker added: “As far as I know there aren’t any sticking points.”
Ambassador Dafaranos described his meeting with Australia’s Immigration Minister as “very positive” and told Neos Kosmos that the signing of the agreement was likely to take place within six months.
With the Australian Government having received the approved text from Greece in September, it now looks as though the ball is firmly in the hands of Australian bureaucrats.
In a letter to Neos Kosmos, Ambassador Dafaranos said that reports suggesting he had made recommendations to the Greek government to go-slow on signing, and to await the outcome of the Australian federal elections were incorrect.
Mr Dafaranos said that up to the elections, interdepartmental consultations in Greece concerning the content of the agreement had not been concluded.
Mr Dafaranos said that the day before the September 7 election, the Australian Government received official notification from Greece that – as far as Athens was concerned – the agreement was ready to go.
The most recent discussions involving the Immigration Minister and the Greek ambassador touched on the issue of where the agreement will be formally signed. No decision has been made as to whether it will be in Athens or Canberra.
When the reciprocal Work and Holiday visa (sub class 462) agreement is signed off, the deal will allow Greek and Australian nationals between the ages of 18 and 30 to work in each others’ countries for up to a year. Initially the scheme will be capped to 500 individuals per year per country.
Source: Neos Kosmos