Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday. AP
Australia said on Thursday it was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and announced measures to attract people and businesses from the Asian financial hub, after Beijing imposed a new security law there.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new national security law introduced last week in Hong Kong was a fundamental change of circumstances and Australia would suspend the extradition agreement.
"There will be citizens of Hong Kong who may be looking to move elsewhere, to start a new life somewhere else, to take their skills, their businesses," Morrison said.
New Zealand said it was also reviewing its relationship with Hong Kong due to the new security law, which means Hong Kong suspects can be sent for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts in mainland China.
Morrison said Hong Kong students, graduates and workers in Australia on temporary visas will have the opportunity to stay and work for an extra five years and apply for permanent residency after that time.
There are 10,000 Hong Kong citizens in Australia on student visas or temporary work visas, with a further 2,500 outside Australia and 1,250 applications on hand, according to the government.
Future student visas would also be offered for five years, however Morrison said they were "not expecting large numbers of applicants any time soon".
Australia offered asylum to some 42,000 Chinese students who were in Australia after a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Hong Kong applicants would be prioritised under Australia's Global Talent Scheme and business visa programme. "There is so much talent in Hong Kong," said Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge. "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."
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