More than 20 years after it was first conceived, a working holiday visa agreement between Australia and Greece will go before the Greek parliament next week.
As Ambassador Haris Dafaranos concludes his term of duty, it was confirmed this week that the legislation necessary to introduce the long-awaited Work and Holiday sub-class 462 visa will be presented to the Greek parliament on Monday 7 December.
Eighteen months after former Greek tourism minister Olga Kefalogianni put pen to paper with the then minister for immigration, Scott Morrison, once ratified by the Greek parliament the deal will allow 500 young Greeks and Australians a year to live and work in each other’s country.
Ambassador Dafaranos said he was delighted that Greek parliamentarians would have the opportunity to make the agreement a reality.
“This is good news,” said the ambassador. “The Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr Ioannis Amanatidis is very much supporting it, so I am happy that before the end of 2015 it will be able to take off.
“We have been reminding them, but it is to the credit of the Deputy Foreign Minister that he pushed it personally.”
The idea of working holiday visas operated as a reciprocal agreement between the two countries dates back to the mid-1990s, when the then Labor minister for immigration and ethnic affairs, Nick Bolkus, first initiated discussions with the Greek government led by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Mr Bolkus, who today runs a corporate consultancy business with Alexander Downer, told Neos Kosmos his reaction to hearing of the visa agreement’s imminent ratification was one of “relief and of satisfaction”.
“It’s taken as long as it took to build the Acropolis, but it’s good to finally get it done,” said the former South Australia senator.
“Even though it should have happened 22 years ago, the timing is right even now, such cross fertilisation in both countries advances both countries. It’s high time and it’s very welcome”.