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Full-time pension for Greek man who spent only a decade in Australia

Demetrius Markopoulos, 74, has barely spent a decade of his life in the country but has managed to win the battle for an age pension

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19 December 2016

Demetrius Markopoulos moved to the Lucky Country with his Australian wife, journalist Sheridan Stumm, in 1967 and took out citizenship the following year.

Altogether the 74-year-old Greek man had spent barely a decade of his life in the country yet, as Padraig Murphy from news.com reports, he won the battle for an age pension.

The story goes as follows: Markopoulos permanently left Australia in 1977 to teach English in Greece, make jewellery for tourists and rent out sailboards on the idyllic island of Paros. Then, he spent a few years boating around the Aegean until he got an amicable divorce from his wife in 1993.

Since then he occasionally returned to Australia to visit his ex-wife and children, who lived in Sydney. Meanwhile, in 2007 he was granted a Greek aged pension which he lost in 2012 when he moved to Thailand.

Last year he returned to Australia and applied for the aged pension. Even though he was rejected by Centrelink, he appealed the rejection to the Administrative Appeal Tribunal.

"I am satisfied that Mr Markopoulos retained a continuity of association with Australia while he was in Greece with his family and that he intended during that time to return, and that he continued to treat Australia as 'home'," said senior member Jill Toohey, concluding that Markopoulos ought to be paid the age pension, having spent more than 10 years Down Under.

"As for the six months from October 1976 when Mr Markopoulos returned to Australia with his family before returning to Greece alone in April 1977," Toohey continued, "I am satisfied that he remained an Australian resident for that period.

"I accept that he returned to Australia with the intention of remaining here and making his home here with his family. Through a combination of difficulty finding employment and his psychological condition, he decided to return to Greece. Until he did so, I am satisfied that he was still an Australian resident."

Markopoulos will also be back-paid the age pension from the time he applied in November last year.

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