Britons are in line to soon have greater opportunities to live and work in Australia, with trade deal talks between the two nations placing freedom of movement at the fore of negotiations.
A source close to international trade secretary Liz Truss has told City A.M. that a UK-Australia trade deal will likely allow young Australians to live in the UK for more than two years, with a similar extension for Britons going the other way.
Also being discussed are provisions to allow increased access for businesspeople travelling between the countries and greater bilateral recognition of professional qualifications.
Truss’ team has conducted several rounds of negotiations with Australian officials as the UK tries to close a number of trade agreements after leaving the EU this year.
The Telegraph reported in August that some of the sectors that may benefit from a UK-Australia trade deal are financial services, telecoms and technology.
Increased freedom of movement between the UK and other Commonwealth countries – such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada – has also been pushed by some British business groups since the country voted to leave the EU.
The trade department source said enhanced freedom of movement was a greater priority for the Australian government than the UK’s in trade talks, but that there’s “definitely interest on both sides” and it is “a likelihood” that it will be included in a future trade deal.
Over the past three decades an average of 30,000 Britons have emigrated to Australia every year.
There are several visa options currently open to British citizens, including a one-year working holiday visa that can be extended a second year if you complete three months’ work in the mining or agricultural sectors.
Skilled professionals also have a pathway to Australian residency, with their occupation and level of education taken into account.
This would likely be extended to allow greater access to British citizens if the UK and Australia agree to enhance freedom of movement in the terms of a trade deal.
Matthew Lesh, head of research at the free market Adam Smith Institute think tank, said that it should be “as easy as possible” for Australians to live in the UK and vice versa.
“Freer movement would reinvigorate the strong ties between our two modern, liberal, and democratic nations,” he said.
“The ability to more freely live, study and work across our nations would allow the meeting of people, the exchange of ideas, and trade that enriches both sides.”
Negotiations between the Commonwealth nations come as former Australian Prime Minster Tony Abbott was recently appointed as a key trade adviser to Boris Johnson’s government.
He is also now a member of the Board of Trade under President Liz Truss.
A spokesperson for the Australian High Commission said: “As Prime Minister [Scott] Morrison has said this will be a deal that means more jobs, more growth, more prosperity in both our countries, and more opportunities for Australian and UK citizens to live and work in each other’s countries, ultimately.”
The Department for International Trade was contacted for comment.