Liberal Democrat Senator for New South Wales, David Leyonhjelm, has announced his support for free-migration agreements as a top priority for Australian foreign policy, similar to those with New Zealand under the Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement.
Senator Leyonhjelm has previously announced his support for free movement with Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom as part of Liberal Democrat party policy, stating that free movement of people generally contributes to greater prosperity and allows for benefits of greater trade in the Australian labour market.
Writing in The Australian Financial Review this week, Senator Leyonhjelm proposed forging bilateral free-migration agreements with countries that have equivalent standards of living and liberal democratic institutions:
“Australians would appreciate the ability to live and work in partner countries, opening up a wide range of job opportunities and the potential to learn new skills, while their citizens could enjoy the same in Australia,” he said. “Such agreements would be an asset to the Australian labour market without placing additional strain on economic resources.”
Senator Leyonhjelm also mentioned how the Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement had served Australia well, providing reciprocal living and working rights for Australians and New Zealanders in each country:
“Our sheep would never be shorn without Kiwi shearers and our mining industry during the boom would have needed thousands more 457 visa holders but for New Zealanders filling the many vacancies. Many Australians, particularly highly skilled workers, have filled positions in New Zealand too.”
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The New South Wales Senator also said that the benefits of bilateral free-migration agreements become clear when focusing on social security and tax funded schemes as “they don’t necessarily result in any permanent change in our population, or become a drain on our welfare budget.”
The full media release by Senator David Leyonhjelm can be viewed here.
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