The Australian Government must focus on providing protection to those at greatest risk from China’s imposition of national security laws on Hong Kong, to avoid being seen to exploit the crisis for business advantage, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) says.
“While we welcome the Australian Government’s recognition that opponents of the new national security laws in Hong Kong are at risk, today’s announcement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison focuses only on Hong Kong residents who meet skilled and business migration criteria,” RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said.
“A human rights crisis needs a humanitarian response focused on those at greatest risk, not one which seeks to use the crisis to drive skilled and business migration to Australia or meet skills gaps in regional areas.
“Many of Hong Kong’s young protesters who have put themselves at risk by advocating for free speech will not be protected by the new Australian Government policy. While it is positive that some students and skilled and business migrants will have the opportunity to remain in Australia, the Morrison Government must address how it plans to protect those in greatest danger.
“As a nation, we cannot confuse our skilled migration and humanitarian programs. The two programs must remain separate, both in their objectives and their application.
“In 1954, the Menzies Government signed the Refugee Convention, committing Australia to protecting people at risk of persecution because of their political or religious beliefs or their identity. This long-standing commitment must be central to Australia’s response to the crisis in Hong Kong.
“The Morrison Government must build on today’s announcement by outlining how Australia plans to offer protection to people at great risk in Hong Kong who will not easily meet skilled or business migration criteria. This will address any concern that Australia sees the crisis in Hong Kong as nothing more than another business opportunity.”
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