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Australia opens arms to businesses fleeing Hong Kong

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Jessica Yun
·3-min read
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(Source: Getty, AAP)
(Source: Getty, AAP)

Australia will incentivise Hong Kong businesses looking to relocate Down Under as Hong Kong residents seek to flee the city after Beijing implemented a sweeping new national security law that criminalises protest and dissent.

Australia will look to attract highly skilled workers, or “super talent”, from Hong Kong, who will create jobs and attract wealth and investment into Australia, acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said on Thursday afternoon.

This would take the form of prioritising Hong Kong applicants in already-existing visa and talent schemes as well as developing new ones.

At the end of June, China passed draconian new laws for Hong Kong that lays out penalties as severe as life imprisonment for subversion, terrorism, separatism and collusion with foreign forces.

Temporary skilled visa holders from Hong Kong in Australia will be eligible for a further five years in Australia as well as a pathway to permanent residency, and future applicants will be eligible for a five-year visa, provided they meet existing criteria, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced.

“[Australia] will be providing some additional resources there as well to target those particular individuals who are real job-multiplying people, who create businesses, who are entrepreneurs, who have that tech talent that the world is looking for. And they will then have a permanent residency visa to enable them to come into the country,” said Tudge.

The visa application centre in Hong Kong, which was closed at the beginning of Covid-19, will reopen.

“In relation to attracting businesses from Hong Kong ... we believe [in] developing new incentives for export-oriented Hong Kong-based businesses to relocate to Australia,” said Tudge.

These economic incentives will be supported by the new visa pathways for critical staff to come to Australia and eventually qualify for permanent residency.

There are currently more than 1,000 international businesses that have their regional headquarters in Hong Kong at the moment, but many have signalled they are looking to relocate globally, said Tudge.

“We want them to look to Australia and set up shop. And so we'll be developing incentives for them to do so, but with that, a package of visas as well, so that all the critical staff can come and potentially relocate in one of our cities or a region, and be able to get pathways to permanent residency.”

Australia had a “great opportunity”, Tudge said, but would need to be competitive to attract these companies looking to relocate.

“There is so much talent in Hong Kong. There are great businesses in Hong Kong. And we know that many individuals now might be looking elsewhere, because they do want to be in a freer country, they want to be in a democratic country, and we want to make it attractive for that super talent to consider Australia, and that's what these measures do.”

Read next: Australia announces Hong Kong visa move after China's crackdown

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