Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, showed his support for the immigration of Commonwealth nationals to the UK by backing a report entitled ‘How to solve a problem like a visa’, which was recently released to the British Parliament.
In a foreword to the Commonwealth Exchange report, Mr Johnson wrote: “[This is] the beginning of a long-overdue discussion about how we can engage with Commonwealth citizens, specifically on the matter of visas to work and invest in the UK.”
This came after the shocking news of an unnamed Australian teacher, who nearly had to be extradited when her working visa renewal application was initially declined. She told the Sydney Morning Herald that: “The amount of processes that Australian and New Zealand and other Commonwealth citizens have to do just to stay in the UK is absolutely ridiculous.”
What does the Mayor propose to combat this issue?
A bilateral mobility zone
Mr Johnson – who was named ‘Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK’ earlier this year – recommended the idea of having a bilateral mobility zone between Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Britain.
The report suggests that the bilateral agreements should be modelled on the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement between Australia and New Zealand, meaning any Australian or New Zealand nationals who wish to travel and work in the UK should be given access to a free visa. He also stated plans to ensure the same would apply to British citizens who wanted to move to Australia.
The Commonwealth has a population of 2.3 billion, with a growing labour force and the same shared English language. Yet, throughout the years this useful network has been undermined and in particular let down by an outdated visa process.
The London Mayor calls for Britain to re-engage with the Commonwealth peoples, as they represent Britain’s future as well as the past. This request also comes at a time when the Australian economy is doing well, which is a stark comparison to the EU’s current economic state.
Cost of living
Migration from the Commonwealth into the UK has significantly decreased in recent years, with Australian migration to Britain going from 40,000 in 1999 to 26,000 in 2011 and New Zealand migration from 18,000 in 2000 to 8,000 in 2011.
On the other hand, the number of Britons looking to move to the Southern Hemisphere has grown consistently over the years. Should we be surprised by this?
Much has been made about the difference in the cost of living, but as we’ve stressed in recent months, these comparisons are often wide of the mark. While it was much more expensive to live in places like Sydney and Melbourne compared with English or Scottish cities a couple of years ago, the gap has narrowed, and it’s now far more competitive.
When you take other factors into account, not least the weather and high wages in Australia, you can begin to understand why there are more people attempting to get into the country than those who are looking to start a new life in the Northern Hemisphere.
Is it a good idea to relax migration terms between these countries?
Boris Johnson stated that due to the shared values, language and similar laws, Britons are always welcomed in Commonwealth countries, and we can confirm that this is indeed true – especially those who have a strong work ethic and skills that Aussie businesses really need. They also have the opportunity to earn more than they would in the UK, while soaking up the rich culture of a country that has been influenced by Britain in the past.
Is the promise of a free visa enough to persuade you to elope to Australia? With its beautiful environment, stable economy and fascinating culture, we at True Blue think Australia is the perfect place for you to set up your new home. If an agreement of the kind that Mr Johnson is endorsing does come to fruition, it would surely benefit everybody, wouldn’t it?