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7 January 2021

Independent Senator Rex Patrick has called on the Australian Government to further widen its immigration criteria to increase the eligibility of Hong Kong residents to migrate to Australia.

“China’s demolition of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong is accelerating”, Senator Patrick said. “In these circumstances Australia must open our door wider to give our Hong Kong friends refuge, safety and full opportunity to enjoy democratic freedoms.”

“China’s mass arrests of pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong confirms the so-called ‘one state, two systems policy’ is dead and buried. China’s actions have shredded the international agreements and understandings that underpinned the 1997 transfer of power and involves a comprehensive assault on the rights and freedoms Hong Kongers have enjoyed.”

“We can expect the Chinese Communist Party to launch further attacks on human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong.”

“In these circumstances the Australian Government should further widen our immigration criteria to allow more Hong Kongers to migrate here as soon as COVID entry limits are eased “

“Australia and Hong Kong have long shared a close relationship. Our people-to-people links include close family connections, business ties and shared values.  Australia should respond to current circumstances with generosity and friendship.”

In July 2020, in response to the deterioration of situation in Hong Kong, the Australian Government announced new visa arrangements to allow current and future students from Hong Kong a 5 year temporary graduate visa with a pathway to permanent residency. Similar arrangements were also put in place for current and future temporary skilled visa holders.

Senator Patrick said: “While these measures were welcome, they were too narrow in scope. The time has come for Australia to take further steps to extend these arrangements to apply to all British Overseas Nationals passport holders in Hong Kong and their dependants, subject to normal security and other checks.”

“Such a policy would match the policy announced by the United Kingdom in July and open the way for substantially greater migration from Hong Kong to Australia.”

“This would be a special set of arrangements put in place in response to unique circumstances and would reflect the strong historical ties between Australia and Hong Kong.”

“Opening the door wider for Hong Kongers would also bring significant economic benefit. Owing to COVID19 restrictions, Australia’s current immigration programs have been brought to a halt with very significant economic consequences. Broad migration flows are unlikely to be restored for some time, so there is considerable scope within existing immigration plans for increased migration from Hong Kong. Migration from Hong Kong could go some way to make up the immigration shortfall that has resulted from the COVID19 pandemic.”    

“Hong Kongers have a long track record of contributing to Australia’s prosperity, economic, technological and social development in all sorts of ways. Increased migration from Hong Kong would undoubtedly help stimulate economic activity and bring enduring benefits to Australian society.”