Brexit: EU ‘forced to concede’ says former Tory MP
As part of a free trade agreement with the UK, the working holiday visa age limit could be raised from 30 to at least 35. The length of stay under the proposed plans would be extended from one year to at least three years.
Dan Tehan, the trade and tourism minister, promised Canberra would be “willing to do more” than the current terms in the trade deal.
He said: “If we can’t have free exchange and movement of people between ourselves [Australia and Britain], then who can we have it with?”
The post-Brexit free trade agreement is set to be finalised this week and is expected to make it easier for people to live and work in both Britain and Australia.
However, according to The Times, Mr Tehan is looking to make additional visa changes over the coming months in a bid to lure more older British workers.
Australia to relax working holiday visa rules for UK under new trade deal
Dan Tehan, Australia’s trade and tourism minister
This comes as Australia’s annual migration intake fell from around 160,000 before the pandemic to almost zero due to the closure of its international borders.
This has left the country with severe labour shortages.
Economists have warned these shortages will have a major impact on the nation’s economy as it begins to reopen.
In a report last week, the independent advisory group, Infrastructure Australia, said the construction industry was facing large skills shortages.
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Australian PM Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson
These shortages affected the trade industry such as electricians, painters and joiners, as well as professionals such as engineers, geologists and architects.
Infrastructure Australia predicted between now and 2025 there will be a shortfall of 70,000 scientists and engineers, 19,000 project management professionals and 28,000 trade and labour workers.
The government’s 2021 Intergenerational Report said net overseas migration will need to rise so around 235,000 people per year are entering the country by 2024-25.
Mr Tehan said he is aware of labour shortages affecting parts of Europe following the pandemic.
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European trade landscape post-Brexit
He said the government’s aim is to avoid similar problems across Australia.
He said: “We understand as we open up, we’re going to have to be very conscious of the need to provide the skills that we need to drive the reopening and make sure that we rebound as strongly as possible.”
The UK and Australia reached an “agreement in principle” back in June but have spent months wrangling over the legal document.
The trade deal is expected to come into force next July.
Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson
Last week, Mr Tehan met with his UK counterpart, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, in order to finalise the trade deal.
Mr Tehan told the UK-Australia Chamber of Commerce: “I know we’re all impatient to get that signature on the final inked deal.
“I can tell you no one is more impatient than me to get that done
“But we do have to make sure that we get it right.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
The Australian version of the deal stands at around 1,600 pages, while the UK text is 2,600.
Mr Tehan continued: “I’m not quite sure whether it’s just the type spacing or the different sides of the schedule but they’ve got a few more pages than us.
“Obviously we’ve got to dot i’s and cross t’s and the final negotiations do take time.”
But he said he hoped the deal was “not very far away at all.”