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Published by Victoria Craw -

While much of the world is throwing up new borders to clamp down on unwanted migrants, one organisation is pushing for free movement between Australia and a select group of countries.

Travel to Australia could become easier with free movement
The Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation wants to see unrestricted movement for citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK between nations.

Founder James Skinner claims to have “received significant support” from MPs and senators in each of the countries, who claim it would bring economic and social benefits. An online petition calling for a European Union-style freedom of movement arrangement has gained 162,000 signatures.

If the European Union can incorporate freedom of movement for citizens of 28 member states (all of whom have different cultures, languages and ancestries), there is no reason why a free movement initiative between Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom could not be introduced,” he told

Mr Skinner claims the historical and cultural ties between the Commonwealth countries plus similarities in the legal and political system make it a no-brainer. Similar levels of economic growth, development, healthcare and quality of life added to the case that freedom of movement wouldn’t be a “brain drain” for any particular nation, he said.

Citizens of these nations could therefore move freely without the risk of a migration exodus occurring, which causes negative consequences for all economies involved,” he said.

One of the current problems with the European Union is citizens from less developed nations emigrating to more prosperous nations for employment opportunities and a better quality of life, causing a brain drain in the primary country and excessive immigration in the secondary country".

With a free movement initiative between Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, we would not see such migration patterns as all countries involved are similarly developed with exceptional qualities of life.

It’s one of a plethora of ideas fighting for oxygen in the post-Brexit debate as the UK works out what its relationship with Europe and the rest of the world will look like.

Earlier this month, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said free movement could be on the table as part of a future free-trade agreement with Britain now being explored.

Should we be in a position to conclude a free-trade agreement after Brexit well then obviously [improved access] can be the subject of a free-trade agreement,” she said.

Julie Bishop has expressed possibility of free movement
(photo: Huffington post)
It’s something we were able to achieve with the United States and I certainly look forward to increasing the number of business visas, student visas, work visas, between Australia and the UK.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has long been a champion of improved access for Australians in the UK and once called for a free labour mobility zone, praised the “almost glutinous” harmony between the two nations.

While he stopped short of endorsing free movement, he said it would be a “fantastic thing if we had a more sensible system”.

You’ll remember the difficulties we had in recruiting paramedics … so this is something where I think we can make progress and I’m confident that we will,” he said.

Despite historical ties, the number of Australians living and working in the UK has fallen by 40 per cent since 2008 due to restrictions on migration.

Australia’s High Commissioner, Alexander Downer, has pushed for greater access and the move is supported by the majority of citizens in each country, according to a survey by the Royal Commonwealth Society.

It found in a YouGov poll earlier this year that 70 per cent of Australians, 75 per cent of Canadians, 82 per cent of New Zealanders and 58 per cent of Britons supported free mobility, with those aged between 18 and 35 in New Zealand and Australia most enthusiastic.

64 million people reside in the UK (photo: Emirates)
But with about 64 million people in the UK, 34 million in Canada, 24 million in Australia and just 4 million in New Zealand, how would such an arrangement work in reality?

Mr Skinner said the plan would be to create a “single labour market” to service the combined economy that would allow people to work and study freely. It could also be a boon to those frustrated by delays to family reunification.

With free movement between these nations, families and loved ones would not require visas or work permits, and can be reunited without the cost and stress of arduous immigration controls,” he said.

Critics of freedom of movement say it reduces sovereignty over national borders and can allow terrorists and criminals to slip through undetected.

The idea would also have to overcome a major hurdle in public opinion revealed this week through the Essential Poll, which found 31 per cent of Australians feared a free trade deal that could make their jobs vulnerable to overseas workers.

It also showed bitter division on attitudes to Muslim immigration with 49 per cent of Australians supporting a ban on it altogether, while 40 per cent were opposed.

The Australian Government has been contacted for comment.

This week, we are proud to announce two public events, focusing on the Commonwealth, free movement and a future union between the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand:

"The Commonwealth - Our Past, Present & Future"
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

CFMO Representative for East Canada, Joshua Thomson, will be discussing the conception of the Commonwealth in the 1931 Statute of Westminster, United Kingdom joining the European Union in 1973, the 1982 Canada Act, and the more recent and controversial BREXIT.

This presentation will shed light on each of these historic milestones and their implications on the Commonwealth, including the prospect of free movement.

As well as his role within the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation, Joshua Thomson is a board member of the New Brunswick Historical Society. Joshua has also traveled extensively to other Commonwealth realms, including New Zealand where he lived on a Working Holiday Visa.

This is a free event, open to the public. It will take place at:

The Mary Oland Theatre: New Brunswick Museum - 1 Market Square, Saint John, New Brunswick, E2L 4Z6

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
Doors open at 7:30 pm

The event is proudly sponsored by the New Brunswick Historical Society.


"Yes We CANZUK: A Post-Brexit Possibility"
Monday, September 26th, 2016

For many in the United Kingdom, Brexit was an opportunity to regain independence from the European Union, and take back control of democracy from Brussels.

City of London (photo: Getty Images)
However, rescinding membership of the EU left many questioning what was next for the UK; would Britain venture forth alone, or would new, better opportunities lie ahead?

One of the UK's leading economists, Dr. Andrew Lilico, believes he has the answer; CANZUK - the union of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Dr Lilico is the executive director of Europe Economics, as well as a fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs, and will be speaking in London on September 26th about the future of a CANZUK union and the UK's place outside of the European Union.

Combined, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand would hold $6.5 trillion in combined GDP and 18 million square kilometres of land (1 million square km more than Russia). Dr. Lilico will present the case for a CANZUK union, detailing our common values, similar levels of income and Commonwealth ancestry that would make our cooperation a true success.

The talk will also feature topics of trade, defence, and most importantly, free movement between the four nations, and how embracing such concepts will leave our nations more prosperous and diplomatic.

The talk entitled "Yes We CANZUK: A Post-Brexit Possibility" will be held at:

The Golden Fleece: 9 Queen St, London, United Kingdom, EC4N 1SP

Monday, September 26th, 2016
Time: 6:00pm - 8:30pm

Tickets are not required. All guests are welcome.

For more information on these events, please contact us at

Nearly three months on from Britain’s momentous decision to leave the EU, our future remains uncertain. The Prime Minister is not expected to invoke Article 50 until next year and we’re yet to see a precise outline of the type of deal that she will seek to achieve in the coming exit negotiations.

What's next for the UK after the EU?
Some Remainers are still disappointed by the result and are openly calling for a second referendum. As the old saying goes, however, “what’s done is done” – we exercised our democratic rights, and the decision is conclusive. We’re leaving the European Union.

But what if, in the wake of Brexit, an initiative were proposed that offered economic and social prosperity for us all outside of the EU? What if Britain had the chance to take the lead on the most politically progressive project the world has ever seen, guaranteeing us (and future generations) the opportunity to live, work and study abroad, reunite with family and friends thousands of miles away, and reap the benefits of our ties to other Commonwealth nations?

A proposal too good to be true? Not in the slightest, because all this is achievable by introducing free movement for citizens between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation (CFMO), which I had the privilege of founding, has campaigned for freedom of movement between these four nations since February 2015, and since we became internationally recognised, our support has continued to grow rapidly each and every day.

Over 160,000 people have signed our petition calling for free movement between these Commonwealth countries, and an independent poll of 206,000 people (conducted by CBC News in Canada) found that over 91.8 per cent support our proposals.

Our campaign has also received the backing of numerous politicians and diplomats across the world and, since the Brexit referendum, hundreds of thousands of people have visited our website eager to learn about the future of free movement between the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Of course, there are those who will say it shouldn’t be pursued, but allow me to explain why introducing free movement solely between these “CANZUK” nations would be the best thing for the UK and our Commonwealth partners.

Passport Canada (photo:
Before the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973, we shared our borders with Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and each citizen of these nations was free to live and work in the UK (and vice-versa). Our countries harmoniously cooperated with a mutual understanding that all of our citizens were welcome, and in return we reaped the economic and social benefits of open borders and reciprocal rights to “indefinitely remain”.

Post-Brexit, we have the chance to reap those benefits once more.

Collectively, we would have the fourth largest economic area in the world, a combined GDP of $5.7 trillion, a GDP per capita value higher than that of the United States, and an unemployment rate of under 6 per cent. More so, citizens of the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada would have the opportunity to work, study and reside freely within these countries, while our businesses recruit the best international talent without the cost, risk and often lengthy delays experienced under present immigration controls.

And we only need to look to the EU for inspiration. If 28 member states with 508 milion people, over 60 different languages and numerous cultures and backgrounds can afford the rights to free movement for their citizens, then why can’t we?

We are four, proud, independent nations which share the same head of state, the same common law legal system, the same Western culture, the same respect for democracy and human rights, and even the same language – why should we pass on the political, social and economic opportunities presented by embracing free movement with each other?

British and New Zealand passports (photo: TNT Magazine)
Our CANZUK partners are eager to cooperate. A recent international poll found that 70 per cent of Australians, 75 per cent of Canadians and 82 per cent of New Zealanders would embrace a free movement initiative between our nations, all the while retaining our sovereignty and independence which the European Union could not afford us.

And would free movement pose an international security issue? Not at all.

As each of our four countries operates under the highly-effective “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance (together with the US), there would be a natural mechanism for monitoring security threats.

Our countries have always stood together throughout history as the leading nations of the Commonwealth and, to this day, our citizens share cultural and historical ties that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.

Now that we have voted to leave the European Union, we can advance the ever-growing diplomatic, economic and political connections that we already share through our Commonwealth ties, and embrace the countless benefits that free movement between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada would bring.

It has always been the common sense thing to do, and with our support base growing rapidly every day, the United Kingdom’s future is looking very bright indeed.

Article published by City A.M.

James Skinner
C.F.M.O Founder & Executive Director
Vancouver, Canada


Published by SBS Australia:

The Australian government's high partnership visa fees and lengthy processing times are pushing Aussies to leave the country for good to avoid the substantial cost and hassle of bringing their partners to Australia.

Partnership visa fees are becoming too expensive for many couples
(photo: Shutterstock)
Partnership visa fees have increased almost 400 per cent in the last five years, currently sitting at $6,865 – significantly higher than the fees in comparable first-world countries. There are other costs as well, for police checks, health checks and immigration agents.

Processing times of over a year are not uncommon, leaving tens of thousands of couples in limbo.

A report released yesterday by the Australian Productivity Commission notes that the high visa charges could risk Australians leaving the country altogether in order to be with their overseas partners.

"This is the exact reason we decided to settle in Germany over Australia," Australian ex-pat Callum Dahner-Mclean told SBS. "My visa is 30 euros per year and my application for citizenship cost a total of 175 euros."

The fees have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in government revenue, but there appears to be little other justification for the fees.

The Productivity Commission says there appeared to be no systematic approach to the way visa charges are set.

When we asked the Immigration Minister’s office about the high fees earlier this year, they justified the cost by pointing to social services such as Study Assistance and Medicare that partners become eligible for.

But the Minister’s own department contradicted that reasoning, stating that immigrants on the partnership visa program pay more in tax than they use in services.

In 2008 an Immigration Department commissioned report showed the government was making a net profit from the visa stream. Back then the fee was just $1,390.

According to numerous reports the government has commissioned, foreign partners tend to have a net positive impact on the federal budget and are more likely to work than natural-born Australians, despite initially being paid less than Australian counterparts.

The fee is a particularly heavy burden for young couples, which make up the majority of applicants. Approximately 56 per cent of partners applying for the visa are younger than 35.

While the latest Productivity Commission report recommends a substantial rise in parent visa fees, it explicitly states there should be no change to partnership and dependent child visa fees.

The cost of sponsorship is too much for some Australians
(photo: Getty Images)
For many couples, that recommendation comes too late, leaving them feeling like their lives are on hold.

"My partner and I are students. We just paid. It was our whole life savings," Liza Stringer tells SBS. "We paid them at the expense of being able to see his family in Canada."

They've been told the Australian visa could take 12 to 15 months to process - she says her current visa to Canada was $500 and took four months to come through.

Stringer says the application process has been exhausting, and they're still waiting on a final decision.

"It feels like we are just waiting to be allowed to begin our real lives, and are being penalised for wanting to do so," she says.

Others have given up altogether.

"My Canadian partner and I had begun this process, but decided it would be smarter to use our savings to build a better life elsewhere," Carl Hamilton tells SBS. "The uncertainty and financial outlay was too difficult and stressful to follow through."

"We're unlikely to return to Australia to live now. For young people just getting started in their careers, it can be prohibitive," he says.

Hamilton says he's recently received Permanent Residency in Canada, the entire process amounting to less than a third of the cost of an Australian partnership visa.

"If there’s any place where they shouldn’t be trying to gouge out an immigration fee, it’s when an Australian wants their loved one to live here," migration agent Zeke Bentley told SBS earlier this year.

"They’re taking advantage of people’s relationships,” he said.

On 24 June 2016, I woke-up like it was any other morning - a bit cranky that it was so early and that I hadn’t won the lotto and retired to travel the world with my fiancĂ©.

Canadian passport (photo: UCreative)
Living in the UK for just over a year, 24 June was a pretty significant day in British history - the referendum results were in. For the past few months, all channels and newspapers were splattered with “In versus Out” campaigns, stories about how people may be affected (on either side of the campaign), and what it could possibly mean for business, trade and finance.

That morning, jokingly, we both made comments to the effect of “well, another day in the EU,” thinking that there was absolutely no way the UK would have voted to leave, if for no other reason than the unknown.

To our surprise, the results proved us wrong.

Shocked would have been an understatement if you asked how we were feeling. Immediately, we tried to figure out what would happen - assuming the Prime Minister would step down, we were trying to analyse possible candidates and made assumptions of who would step in as his replacement (we were wrong, by the way).

That morning, as usual, I took the train to work. Generally in London, no one makes eye contact with strangers, let alone talk to them on public transportation (unless you’ve indulged in a few libations), but all the natter on the train ride was about Brexit. Everyone was talking about it, and everyone had an opinion. A portly gentleman, who seemed to have some sort of problem with the world in general, was offering lots of comments about the UK and it’s future (for the record: none of it was overly coherent), but began asking for the opinions of others and what they thought the future held. The kind lady beside him explained that no one knows what the future would hold, and I echoed her sentiment when he asked me. Promptly, he told me to row back to America and that my time in the UK was soon over.

It's now been nearly three months since the Brexit vote, and while there have been some changes, we still don’t really know what’s happening.

There was a fluctuation in the Pound, but its climbing back up. We’ve not yet noticed prices rise at the pumps or grocery stores, and I don’t think housing prices have been affected. We’ve recently purchased an apartment in south London, and regularly go past the estate agent offices, peering into the window at neighbouring apartments, and prices are still as high as ever.

From an immigration stand-point, I think that this could help Commonwealth citizens with immigration to the UK. I’m not a solicitor, immigration specialist, or have a deep knowledge of politics in the UK, but I think that once the UK separates from the EU (should this process actually happen), it will probably limit the number of EU residents moving here with the intent of staying long term.

From a personal standpoint, the UK is my home. I arrived here in June 2015 and quickly thereafter, met someone & fell in love. We’ve had a busy year of buying a house, travelling (within the UK, and within & outside the EU), and have also recently become engaged. My partner is born & raised in London and his family all lives nearby. This is our home and where we plan to spend our lives, at least for the foreseeable future.

When I arrived here in June 2015, I had plans to stay for 2 years on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, and didn’t have any long term plans within the UK. Now that I’m here, and more than a year into my visa (with plans to permanently stay) I need to consider how Brexit could possibly affect me.

London at night (photo:
For now, no one seems to know what's happening. We don’t know what changes are to come, what Parliament is doing in the lead up to triggering Article 50, or how immigration policies will be affected.

Given that there seems to be so much unknown at this point, we continue to carry on preparing for the next visa. Right now, I can’t accurately say what’s going to happen, if I’ll have issues submitting my next visa application, if there will be changes to immigration for EU & non-EU citizens and what to expect going forward. I’m not sure anyone in the country currently knows what’s going to happen.

With all of that unknown, it does make me feel a bit uneasy. The unknown is a bit daunting, but all I can do is move along the regular process, keeping the status quo and hoping for the best.

But what people neglect to consider when someone is going through the visa / immigration process is that there is a large investment behind it - both financially and emotionally. My first visa cost a significant amount financially, but also meant that I was leaving my home, all of my friends and family and was taking a major risk. I left my career, my comfort zone and everything that was familiar to me. This time, I am applying for a visa that means whether my husband and I get to spend our lives together in the home we’ve both created; an issue that would not affect me if I had the opportunity to live and work here as a Commonwealth citizen without visa restrictions.

Free movement between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK just makes sense. These countries share so many commonalities and the ease of movement between our four nations would create such a strong partnership. This union would make things so much easier for me, and thousands of people in similar circumstances.

It would mean that I wouldn’t have to worry about potentially leaving my husband at some point due to visa restrictions, or worry about the unknowns and the what if’s. It would also mean that I wouldn’t have to pay an extortionate amount every few years to re-apply for new visas. For me, free movement means that we don’t have to worry about ever being separated.

The future (post-Brexit) is uncertain for everyone, but as a Canadian, I hope our future as citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK will be one where our rights to move freely are recognized, and our fears of being separated from family and loved-ones are never again a concern for us or future generations.

Erin McLaughlin
Saint John, Canada


Erin is from Saint John, New Brunswick & is living in south London with her fiancĂ©. She is currently on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa and in the process of preparing to switch to a LTR (F) visa.

Of all the many splendid opportunities provided by the British people’s heroic Brexit vote, perhaps the greatest is the resuscitation of the idea of a CANZUK Union.

Brisbane CBD (photo:
Winston Churchill’s great dream of a Western alliance based on three separate blocs might one day live again, thanks to Brexit. The first and second blocs – the USA and a United State of Europe – are already in place. Now it is time for the last – CANZUK – to retake her place as the third pillar of Western Civilization.

The Crown countries of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (CANZUK) need to form a new federation based upon free trade, free movement of peoples, mutual defence, and a limited but effective confederal political structure.

As one of the leaders of the nascent CANZUK project, James Bennett, points out in his new book A Time For Audacity: New Options Beyond Europe: “In the era of the internet and cheap global air travel, common language, law, history and traditions of government count far more than geographical proximity.

Much more unites than divides the CANZUK countries, and were it to become a Union it would immediately become one of the global great powers alongside America, the EU and China. It would be easily the largest country on the planet, have a combined population of 129 million, the third biggest economy and the third biggest defence budget.

A movement towards such an entity is already beginning, with 160,000 people signing a petition for free CANZUK movement of peoples on within a few months. CANZUK free movement brings an immediate benefit to ordinary Britons, with effective reciprocity in the form of employment, business, and retirement opportunities that ordinary Britons can enjoy, as opposed to the mostly theoretical benefits that the EU brought.

Unlike EU free movement, CANZUK would provide not only the right to take a job in a member state, but in one where there actually are real jobs available.

UK & Australia trade talks in London (photo: The Telegraph)
The proposed CANZUK Union will be more like the successful federations the English-speaking world has known, such as Canada and Australia. Those differed from the EU in that they had the prerequisites for forming a parliament and government that could exercise control over their bureaucracies, as opposed to the uncontrollable quangos of Brussels.

Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop has recently said that a free-trade deal with post-Brexit Britain could lead to “improved access” and more visas for travel between Australia and Britain. There is similar support in New Zealand and Canada, which will next week welcome the Duke and Duchesss of Cambridge.

But this should be just the beginning. Now that Britain is free of the EU, she can pursue the dream of early 20th century giants such as Joseph Chamberlain – incidentally, Theresa May’s political hero – for an Anglospheric combination of free states that would project a strong and independent voice in the world.

The CANZUK Union of free trade and free movement should be the nucleus for the recreation of the dream of the English-speaking peoples that was shattered by Britain’s entry into the EU. We must pick up where we left off in 1973.

Brisbane CBD (photo:
Sir Roger Scruton’s famous dictum that “A nation-state is the widest span at which it is possible to be meaningfully good” can be inverted with no loss of truth, for if there are a set a peoples who effectively share an idea of what public good is, then they will probably be candidates for a state, at least a federal one.

We CANZUK countries together have far more of the potential for successful state-building than do any four member-states of the EU. A common head of state, a majority language, legal systems based on Magna Carta and the common law, Westminster parliamentary tradition, military structure, and a long history of working together including in the proudest voluntary military collaboration in human history, resisting Nazi aggression.

All we lack is geographical proximity, which is becoming less and less important in the modern world. CANZUK is an idea whose time has, thanks to Brexit, finally come again.

Prof Andrew Roberts is Chairman of the Advisory Board of the CANZUK Union Institutes. Details of the Canzuk Union can be found by clicking here

[Article posted by The Telegraph]

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