Access to UK visas for Australians has been a hot topic of debate among Westminster MPs this week.
For the first time in years, the country has been the focus of immigration debates after a report was published indicating that a high number of Australians were being forced to leave the country due to visa restrictions.
According to reports from Australian news sites, MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell, introduced the topic, stating that the UK should be looking at reintroducing immigration policies that favoured countries with which it shared historical and cultural links. Commonwealth nations, notably Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians, were highlighted as examples of countries that might be considered as special cases.
Common or similar judicial and parliamentary systems, as well as shared languages, culture, and values were all given as important reasons for considering viewing immigrants from these countries differently within the UK immigration system.
Mr Rosindell told the house: “Being a subject from one of Her Majesty’s realms or being from a Commonwealth nation should count for something when looking to visit, work, study or live in the United Kingdom, at the moment it appears to count for little.”
He added that the decision to place “most of our eggs in the EU basket” has resulted in a loss of potential opportunities with countries that the UK has historically held strong ties with. Indeed, immigration from Australia and New Zealand has fallen over recent years while EU immigration has risen.
Meanwhile, the director of the Commonwealth Exchange think tank, Tim Hewish, introduced a report to Parliament on the matter, stating that there is broad support for the introduction of a UK visa scheme designed specifically to tackle the falling numbers of Australian migrants coming to the UK.
He remarked: “People are disappointed, just short of anger, the fact people have travelled God knows how many thousands of miles to come to this country to set up shop whether with a business or for a business and that takes economic and personal risk and to be turned away after such a short time or even straight away puts you off this country which is sad to say.
“These people could be leaders of business or academia or another field and they are not going to have a positive view of Britain and that damages Britain’s soft power reputation.”