Subjects: China, visa arrangements for Hong Kong
GEORGE MOORE: Alan Tudge is the acting Immigration Minister, and he's on the line with us now. Good afternoon.
ALAN TUDGE: G'day George.
GEORGE MOORE: Minister, is the Government concerned about these threats from China? Are you concerned so much? I know the Chinese embassy has been having a go, the media over there called us chewing gum on the boot of China or something. Are you worried about the repercussions? Because look, I think most of us, most of us reasonably understand that it is a fine line between pushing back and bowing down.
ALAN TUDGE: Yeah, it's a good question George. I mean, we're always going to make our own judgements based on what is in Australia's interest and aligned with our values, and that's what we've always done, that's what we'll continue to do. I would say that our trade relationship actually with China has never been stronger. We've still got good people to people's links, but of course we've got some differences in other things, which in some respects is not to be unexpected given that we have a liberal democracy, they obviously have a different form of government there being a communist system. But, we will continue to act in our interest and according to our values.
GEORGE MOORE: Yeah, I know a cheer went up when Marise Payne made that announcement about calling for an inquiry into the COVID-19 business, and that got a bad reaction from China. But were things 100 per cent before that, or were they already going slightly south?
ALAN TUDGE: Well, if you look at our trade relationship, I mean, it's been growing year on year and it's now at record levels, and of course we've always had good people to people relationships, and mainly because we have such a large population of people with Chinese heritage in Australia who have contacts back to China and Hong Kong. But yes, of course there are some differences, and we have some trade differences and we've got to work through those calmly and sensibly as we do. And there's inevitably some differences on other matters as well which again we try to work through calmly and sensibly.
GEORGE MOORE: Alright. Could you explain for our listeners this visa safe haven and the extension and so on, and how all this will work?
ALAN TUDGE: Yeah, so I wouldn't call it a safe haven visa as such. In essence, what we're doing is providing greater incentives for students and for skilled migrants and for businesses to either stay in Australia longer or indeed to come to Australia. And so, students for example, if they come to Australia now will be getting a five-year graduate visa at the completion of their studies. Skilled visa holders equally will get a five-year work visa with a pathway to permanent residency if they choose to come into the country. But perhaps most importantly as well, we're really looking at some of the businesses which are based in Hong Kong, particularly some of the international businesses who have their regional headquarters there, who have already publicly signalled that they want to relocate to somewhere which is more free and more democratic, and we want to be in the position whereby they might consider Australia as their destination to bring their business.
GEORGE MOORE: Yeah. What exactly does an express pathway to permanent residency and citizenship actually mean? What does that mean?
ALAN TUDGE: So, in essence it means that when you're in the country, certain visas allow you to apply for permanent residency at the end of those visas, whereas others don't. For example, you're on a tourist visa, or even if it's a long-term tourist visa or a working holiday visa, you do that time, might be a year or two, and then you're out of the country. If you're on a skilled visa, one of these ones we're talking about, you could be here for five years, at the end of that five years you're then eligible to apply for permanent residency, and then to citizenship subsequent to that. And some people will choose to take that up, some people might still choose to go back to their home country.
GEORGE MOORE: Alright. None of this has been tested with the Australian public, it's too soon of course. But following the announcement, I got a few emails from listeners concerned that Australians might be pushed out of jobs because we are in a difficult period now with unemployment and the COVID-19 virus and so on. What's your response to people that are fearful that if we bring in a lot of people from a troubled country overseas, that it might put Australians out of work?
ALAN TUDGE: Yeah, I suppose two answers to that. One being is that we're really trying to target the super talent out there, and some businesses to come here. And these people are job makers, and if you bring a business out here, it's creating wealth and further opportunities for Australia rather than diminishing them. But the second thing I'd say too is that with all of these, you still have to get a business to sponsor you into the country, and before they do that they have to go through a proper labour market testing, which means they have to advertise nationally, they've got to prove that they can't find an Australian to do the job, and it's only then that you can still sponsor a person in.
GEORGE MOORE: Alright. Thanks for talking with us today, I appreciate your time.
ALAN TUDGE: No worries George, thank you.