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March 2015

Free Movement Proposed For Four Commonwealth Countries

Published: Monday 23 March 2015

An online petition calling for freedom of movement for citizens of the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand has garnered huge support, although the chances of such an agreement becoming remain slim. A story last week posted online by the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation proposed that there should be unrestricted travel between the aforementioned countries due to the similar political, cultural, historic and linguistic ties shared by each nation. Out of 67,000 people who voted in a poll attached to the story, more than 90 per cent said they were in favour of the idea while more than 50,000 people have signed an online petition from the Freedom of Movement Organisation in favour of the change. The organisation was set up by a British national, James Skinner, who was frustrated in his attempts to live permanently in Australia, having lived there as a temporary resident for a few years. Mr Skinner, who now lives in Canada, although again not on a permanent visa, believes that politicians in Canada, the UK Australia and New Zealand should loosen restrictions on visas and work permits between the four countries. Pointing out the European Union as a model for his proposal, and a similar policy already in place in Australia and New Zealand, he believes that the long history and Commonwealth connections of the four countries make them ideal for a similar agreement. “We've had that Commonwealth tie for generations and decades in the past, we've stuck together through thick and thin, [we] share the same head of state, the same native language, the same respect for the common law,” he argues. “It's not something completely out there that we're proposing.” Skinner says he plans to send the petition to politicians in New Zealand and Australia, and then to the Canadian and British governments, pending elections in each respective country. However, although a hugely popular idea, a general consensus appears to be that any such deal could be years in the making and governments of all four countries are unlikely to prioritise such discussions, making the chances of any such agreement ever being implemented even more remote. You can find out more information about this by clicking here.