The lessons Brexiteers should learn from Australia

The Leave.EU camp in the UK is salivating at the prospect of being able to replicate Australia's notoriously harsh immigration rules on foreigners should the polls be confirmed and Britain votes to exit the European Union. 

But even if the Barclay brothers, owners of the UK's prime Eurosceptic newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, were to bequeath the post-Brexit government use of their private Channel island of Brecqhou for a Nauru-style prison camp, there are other areas of Australian policy to learn from. 



In Australia we're in the middle of State of Origin season. The game, referred to as "football" by half the country pits Queensland against New South Wales in rugby league. Or as New Zealand actor Sam Neill recently categorised it: "the warm part of Australia playing the warmer part of Australia in a game no one outside Australia cares about".  
Meanwhile, the forthcoming England vs Wales clash in Euro 2016 is as rare as Northern Ireland reaching the finals. 
But in a post-Brexit world, the Home Nations Championships might reclaim their pre-EU place as the football tournament of choice. 
Let's not forget that we have Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman to thank for overturning foreign player quotas by citing his EU freedom of movement rights. The Premier League was transformed through the influx of Europe's best players. The Leave campaign says it expects British talent will replace foreign players in the league once tighter work restrictions come into force.  
Meanwhile in Australia, the other football code, Aussie rules, restricts young players from Ireland, the only other country to play a comparable game. So Brexiteers could look to Australia for a lesson in protectionism of football. 



Shoppers queued around the block when Swedish fashion store H&M opened in Sydney recently. Ditto Sephora, Zara and even the Ikea megastore in Canberra.
European retailing phenomena took a long time in reaching Down Under. Part of this is geography, but an equal part is the importation rules that apply to textiles. 
Fashion has been a key success of European policymaking, extending the Single European Market to the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa for textiles and garment production. This has provided jobs in politically unstable neighbours of the EU and also helped to keep prices low for consumers.
Of course, Australian designers and retailers are not happy with the recent influx of cheaper European imports. As a Boris-Farage led Westminster government is inevitably forced to wave goodbye to tariff-free European fashion imports, it could open the door for Australian clobber to fill the empty high street shops. 



Australia is blessed with many things. Beaches, weather and good coffee. But low prices isn't one of them. In fact, in cost of living indices, it ranks behind only Switzerland and Singapore as the most expensive places to live. Petrol is cheap, but everything else is quite a bit costlier than elsewhere. 
Why? Chiefly because it is a highly-developed country with a small market In the EU, some 300 million people share the bureaucracy that keeps food safe, employers straight and monopolies rare. In Australia 23 million pay for the same services.
The EU's single aviation market created the conditions for low-cost carriers. Now the complex and costly task of aviation safety is also handled at a European level, further reducing costs. As a result, air travel has never been do affordable or so popular. 
Meanwhile, in Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has an army of bureaucrats employed to check every rivet and bolt of any aircraft type likely to fly in the country . And Australia has airfares some 30% higher than in neighbouring Asian states. 
Post-Brexit, the UK (or a rump Anglo-Welsh statelet) could seek to have access to the European Common Aviation Area, but just as Switzerland finds, it will come at a cost of duplicating EU agencies that will be passed on to consumers in higher airfares. 

So before the Brexit campaign tells the rest of Europe to F off and rejoices in the prospect of fewer foreigners, it should also consider the loss of the 3 Fs: football, fashion and flights.

Not to mention food, farming, furniture, financial services, film making and forestry.