The UK and Australia should create a free movement zone after Brexit as they share “western norms of behaviour”, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said.
Mr. Abbott, who was the Australia premier between 2013 and 2015, said the freedom to travel between the two nations must be based on “work, not welfare” as a condition of any future trade deal.
“The instant Britain did vote to leave the European Union, people in Australia started to think about the appropriate terms of a free trade deal,” he said. “I have to say they are very simple.
“Trade in goods should be absolutely free of tariffs and quotas. There should be full mutual recognition of standards and qualifications. And there should be free movement of people for work, not welfare.
“If a motor vehicle is fit to be sold in Britain, it should be fit to be sold in Australia. If a doctor is fit to practise in Australia, he or she should be fit to practice in Britain.”
Speaking at an event organised by the free-market think tank Politeia, reported by The Times, Mr. Abbot also dismissed concerns about the UK trading with Europe on WTO rules if a Brexit deal cannot be agreed in time.
“Australia has been doing it quite successfully for the last 40 years,” he said.
On migration, he argued British people would be more comfortable accepting newcomers if they a) did not undercut wages, and b) held similar western cultural norms. Australians, he said, met both of these criteria.
“Neither of those would be an issue… between Britain and Australia,” he said. “British workers would not undercut Australian workers because wage rates are comparable. And British norms and Australian norms are almost identical.”
Mr. Abbott initially advocated for the UK to remain in the European Union (EU), as he though the bloc would be damage by Britain leaving. However, he said he had “never been happier than when my advice was dutifully ignored”.