Visa

UK flags possible 'no visa' deal with Australia post Brexit

British passport holders may be able to live and work in Australia without a visa under a post-Brexit trade deal. Under the proposed idea, Australians would be also entitled to the same rights in the UK.

Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liz Truss met Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and her counterpart Simon Birmingham in the capital Canberra on Wednesday.

Ms Truss told a press conference that the two countries had a "special link".

Australia’s Trade Minister Simon Bermingham and his UK counterpart Liz Truss in Canberra on Wednesday. Picture: Rod McGuirk

Australia’s Trade Minister Simon Bermingham and his UK counterpart Liz Truss in Canberra on Wednesday. Picture: Rod McGuirk

Asked about freedom of movement being part of future trade talks, Ms Truss said: "It's certainly something we will be looking at as part of our free trade negotiations.”

Ms Truss added: "We want a fully comprehensive trade deal that reflects our deep, ongoing relationship, the friendship between our two countries, the fact that Australians want to come and live and work in Britain, and Brits want to come and live and work in Australia.

"Leaving the European Union really does give us a chance as a country to become more outward-looking, to become more competitive, and to deepen our links with our partners right across the world."

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Currently, British citizens require a visa to travel to Australia and while Britons can apply for holiday working visas, they must go through normal channels to emigrate longer-term.

Under the Trans-Tasman travel arrangement, there is a common travel area between Australia and New Zealand, meaning citizens from either country are free to travel, live and work in both.

However, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison dismissed the idea of expanding the scheme after a meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 summit in France last month.

Mr Morrison said at the time: "The New Zealand arrangement is quite unique and it's not one we would probably ever contemplate extending."

He had already signalled his willingness to proceed with trade talks quickly, telling reporters at the recent G7 summit in the French seaside resort of Biarritz he believed a deal could be done within a year.

A trade deal could be done in "months rather than years," Ms Truss also said, and negotiations will begin "as soon as possible" after the UK leaves the EU.

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On Tuesday, the UK Department for International Trade confirmed that Australia had agreed to begin talks when the UK leaves the EU, currently scheduled for October 31.

Ahead of the visit, Ms Truss said she wanted to see an "ambitious trade deal" which reduces tariffs and barriers for UK exporters.

She added: "We cannot afford to wait. Britain is going to be ready to trade after Brexit.

"That's why I'm so pleased that today we are reaffirming our commitment to launch bilateral FTA (free-trade agreement) negotiations as soon as possible.

"It's good to see that Australia is going to be quick off the mark and it'll be mirrored by the UK under our new government - a government that takes action.

"A UK-Australia trade deal won't just be a good thing, it'll be a great thing, for our businesses, for our consumers, for our workers and for our two great countries."

According to the Department for International Trade, the UK's trading relationship with Australia was worth £16.6 billion in the year to March 2019, with around 15,000 UK businesses exporting goods there.

Deportations set to soar under proposed laws

Immigration experts have warned the federal government’s proposed changes to the Migration Act could see the number of non-citizens deported increase five-fold.

Australia’s Minister for Immigration David Coleman introduced legislation to allow the government to cancel the visas of people who have been convincted of a crime that carries a maximum sentence of at least two years, even if they never served time in prison.

Minister Coleman said tightening character tests based on criminal conduct was necessary to protect the community from harmful people.

Immigration Minister David Coleman introduced the legislation in July.

Immigration Minister David Coleman introduced the legislation in July.

In a Senate Committee submission, immigration researchers said the changes would impact those “who are unlikely to be an ongoing threat to the Australian community”, with many non-citizens potentially deported for non-jail time offences such as common assault, which frequently results in the lesser punishments of a fine or community correction order.

Researchers including Abul Rizvi, former deputy secretary of the Department of Immigration, said a hardened character test would “immediately expand the number of people failing”, especially as the legislation could be applied retrospectively, and that it would “exacerbate the divide between citizens and non-citizens”.

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The Migration Act was last changed in 2014 under Tony Abbott’s prime ministership, when amendments allowed the immigration minister to cancel a non-citizen’s visa based on association with groups involved in criminal conduct, sexually based offences involving a child, crimes against humanity, and other offences of national and international security concern.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been vocal in opposing the current policy under which people who have lived almost all of their lives in Australia can be sent back to the countries of their birth.

Ms Ardern said the issue had corroded the political relationship between her country and Australia.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has criticised Australia’s deportation policies.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has criticised Australia’s deportation policies.

From 2012 to 2013, 76 New Zealanders’ 501 Visas were cancelled.

The figure jumped to 1,277 from 2016 to 2017 after the passing of the 2014 amendments.

The new stricter character test proposed by Minister Coleman would be the first to allow deportation of an immigrant who has not served a prison sentence, and could see thousands more non-citizens forced to leave behind their Australian lives and families.