BORIS Johnson, the Mayor of London has called for renewed immigration links with Australia, advocating a Free Labour Mobility Zone between the two. It’s time the puppet masters at the UKBA acknowledged the economic benefits of free movement between the two countries.
According to the Australian Department of Immigration, our land which is girt by sea saw 16,700 settler arrivals from the UK in 2011/12.
In return, the UK offered a meagre 20,700 Tier 2 (skilled worker) places last year to all non-EU nationals, having closed Tier 1 (high-value migrants) applications for Australians holding a professional degree in November 2010.Walkabout pubs are subsequently full of bartending Australians born in the 1990s with no engagement or recourse to develop a career in the United Kingdom, forced to return home from a Tier 5 (youth mobility) visa before the snow has had time to settle.
Mr Johnson cites the “palaver” of Sally Roycroft, which is an all too common case among young Australian professionals trying to sustain a career here in the UK. I know this firsthand as one of the many Australians with a circus of red-tape hoops behind me. I am incredibly fortunate to be sponsored by my employer, however I dare not explore the UK job market or promotional opportunities for fear of losing this privilege, one which a talented Australian colleague and friend in the very same organisation was not afforded, despite months of investment and positive reinforcement from senior staff to eventually fall foul of the same monstrous, bureaucratic palaver that is the Tier 2 sponsorship process.
Articles in Monday’s British press took a cheap sneer toward Jamie Oliver and Top Gear cultural capital, but overlooks our historic, sporting and political ties with the UK which are widely documented. EU applicants are not subject to prove they are the “only” suitable candidate for a role at the exclusion of all UK citizens, an arbitrary definition which the more rigorous employers find hard to contest when fighting to keep a qualified and committed Australian in a role.
Young mobile Australians have the potential to make a significant economic and cultural contributions to the UK, yet sponsored visa applications fell 22% in the year to December 2012 and the number of visas issued hit an all-time low since 2005.
There are simpler Commonwealth partnership solutions which Mr Johnson could implore, such as reinstating the Tier 1 visa, but they appear to be falling on deaf ears at the ivory tower of immigration.