Former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, has said the UK and Australia should set up a free movement zone after Brexit because they share “western norms of behaviour”, reiterating free movement calls from CANZUK International.
Mr Abbott, who was Prime Minister of Australia from 2013 to 2015, said the freedom of UK and Australian citizens to travel between the two countries “for work, not welfare” should be a condition of any future trade deal.
Abbott stated: “The instant Britain did vote to leave the European Union, people in Australia started to think about the appropriate terms of a free trade deal. I have to say they are very simple“.
“Trade in goods should be absolutely free of tariffs and quotas. There should be full mutual recognition of standards and qualifications. And there should be free movement of people for work, not welfare. If a motor vehicle is fit to be sold in Britain, it should be fit to be sold in Australia. If a doctor is fit to practise in Australia, he or she should be fit to practise in Britain.”
At an event organised by the free-market think tank Politeia, Abbott said he thought UK citizens would be more willing to accept migration from Australia than from other countries. This was confirmed in a 2016 poll whereby a majority of the British public favoured free movement with Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The sentiment was also reciprocated between these countries and the UK.
Abbott also pointed out the two major disadvantages of immigration to the UK; migrants undercutting British workers, and individuals entering the UK with no respect for UK values, customs or culture.
“Neither of those would be an issue . . . between Britain and Australia,” he said. “British workers would not undercut Australian workers because wage rates are comparable. And British norms and Australian norms are almost identical.”
Boris Johnson made a similar argument in 2013, when he was mayor of London, calling for a “bilateral free labour mobility zone” with Australia. Calls for CANZUK free movement have also increased in recent months, with the campaign advocated by numerous politicians and diplomats.
The United Kingdom is expected to trigger Article 50 (the required procedure to formally leave the European Union) this month. Upon doing so, the UK will begin formal trade negotiations with Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which will likely include some forms of migration deals, including visa liberalisation and free movement.
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