The 10,000 Hong Kong citizens of the country holding a student or temporary work visa will likely benefit from this move.
“There will be citizens of Hong Kong who may be looking to move elsewhere, start a new life elsewhere, take their skills, their business, “said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
He also pitched for international financial services, consulting and the media with a regional headquarters in Hong Kong to settle in Australia.
“If there are companies that want to relocate to Australia, create jobs, provide investment, create opportunities for Australia, we will be very proactive in trying to encourage this,” he said.
Interim Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said he expected the number of Hong Kongers who would come to Australia under the new agreements to be “in the hundreds or thousands”.
Beijing’s new security law outlaws secessionist, subversive or “terrorist” activities in Hong Kong – as well as foreign intervention in the city’s internal affairs – convicted persons face up to life imprisonment.
Critics fear the law will be used to target protesters and opposition politicians who are considered disloyal to Beijing.
Morrison said, “Our government, as well as other governments around the world, has expressed our concerns about the imposition of the National Security Act in Hong Kong in a very consistent manner.
“This national security law constitutes a fundamental change of circumstances with regard to our extradition agreement with Hong Kong. “
Australia has also updated its travel advice for Hong Kong, where about 100,000 Australians live and work, to say that they “are more likely to be detained for vaguely defined national security reasons”.
The move follows similar moves by the UK, which paved the way for citizenship for nearly three million people in Hong Kong who were eligible for British National Overseas status before returning to China in 1997.
Canada has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and is considering other options, including migration.
New Zealand said on Thursday that it is also reviewing its relations with the territory, including extradition agreements, export controls and travel advice.
Relations between Beijing and Canberra have deteriorated since Australia called for an international investigation into the source and spread of the new coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
China has since banned imports of Australian beef and imposed tariffs on Australian barley, and has urged Chinese tourists and students to avoid Australia.
Although China remains Australia’s largest trading partner, the latest announcements may worsen tensions between the two countries.