Australia is being called on to join a push for a new visa-free migration bloc with a new survey showing the ‘free mobility labour zone’ between Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada received strong support.
A poll in the four nations commissioned by the Royal Commonwealth Society in London found that 70% of Australians, 82% Kiwis, 58% of Brits and 75% of Canadians are in support of reciprocal open borders between the nations when it comes to living and working in them.
This policy however was least popular among UK nationals. This is despite the fact that there are more UK nationals in the other three countries than there are the nationals of Australia, New Zealand and Canada in the UK. Policies in the UK are currently moving in the opposite direction and aiming to restrict work rights of foreigners.
Currently, Canadians require a visa for all travel to New Zealand and Australia. Canadians visiting Britain for work or study or on trips longer than six months also require a visa.
The Commonwealth Society’s director of policy and research Tim Hewish said MPs in each country were now needed to build political interest to having a migration bloc between the nations. It seemed a natural shift bearing in mind that these countries shared common language, legal systems, economic and family ties and the same Head of State, The Queen. It is therefore unreasonable for each to not share the same economic, political and cultural benefits that a free-movement policy would bring.
From April 6, Australians staying longer than six months in the UK will have to pay an annual surcharge of $380 to access some health services. Those who want permanent residency in the country will also have to be earning a minimum of $66,500 in order to stay. A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade report warned that the ‘discriminatory’ changes would make the UK ‘a less welcoming destination’ and potentially put formal relations between the two countries at risk.
Migration specialists have reported a spike in the number of Australians based in Britain now looking to return home.