Commonwealth Exchange report proposes bilateral mobility zones between the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada

Australia immigration

Commonwealth Exchange report proposes bilateral mobility zones between the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada

November 12, 2014 Australians and New Zealanders should be granted special status to live and work in the United Kingdom without restriction, a new report says.The Commonwealth Exchange report proposes bilateral mobility zones be established between the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The plan is based on an idea by London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, who was outraged last year when an Australian teacher was kicked out of Britain while European Union citizens enjoy unfettered access.

The report argues so-called “Boris bilateralsâ€_x009d_ should be modelled on the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement (TTTA) between Australia and New Zealand.

“The TTTA should be seen as a starting point for the UK to build a flexible, fair, reasonable and reciprocal regime,â€_x009d_ report author Tim Hewish wrote.

“New Zealand’s two-year wait for welfare provision and five-year wait for eligibility for citizenship appear sensible ideas that the UK may wish to replicate.â€_x009d_

The report acknowledges some in Australia and New Zealand might be concerned about being swamped by Britons.

The mobility zones would be two-way streets and the UK has a population of 63m, compared with Australia’s 23m and New Zealand’s 4.5m.

Hewish also notes Australia’s “turbulentâ€_x009d_ attitude towards asylum seekers might be a stumbling block.

“However, one could argue correctly that there is a difference between asylum seekers and prospective economic migrants.â€_x009d_

The author argues there is little chance of change before the UK general election in May 2015, but after that bilaterals could be up and running within six months.

In the longer term, the new approach could be opened up to include other Commonwealth countries, Hewish writes.

Annual immigration into Britain from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa peaked at 73,000 in 2004 and dropped to 29,000 in 2011.

The report argues that the UK government’s inability to regulate European Union immigration has led to policies aimed at migrants from other countries which “have had an undeserved impact on the Commonwealthâ€_x009d_.

“[But] it would be shameful and a deep error to disregard the shared language, legal system and customs that the Commonwealth family provides,â€_x009d_ it states.

The report recommends a Commonwealth concession for UK business visas and, in the longer term, a Commonwealth-wide business visa system based on the Asean business travel card.

The latter would include fast-track passport lanes at UK airports.

In his foreword to the report, released on Monday, Johnson suggests the UK should recast its immigration system as it re-examines its relationship with the EU.

“The first place to start is with the Commonwealth,â€_x009d_ the mayor writes. “It seems that almost all parts of the Commonwealth are brimming with a new energy and optimism at precisely the time that the European Union is struggling.â€_x009d_

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