And parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle are in the process of setting up a new bipartisan group to press for the rights of pro-democracy Hong Kong people. The group, to be called Parliamentary Friends of Democratic Hong Kong, is being organised by the Liberals' Kevin Andrews and Labor's Senator Kimberley Kitching.
A bipartisan group, likely dozens strong, to give voice and force to the interests of pro-democracy Hong Kongers, will fly in the face of Beijing's views. This may be uncomfortable for the Australian government. But it demonstrates the depth of authentic sympathy for the pro-liberty protesters and a growing Australian wariness of the Chinese Communist Party's repressive impulses.
There are two main reasons that a new exodus from Hong Kong could be a great opportunity for Australia. First is that Hong Kongers generally are quality candidates for immigration. As a senior official put it to me: "They are educated, they have money, they're very savvy and we like getting them. The quality of the applicants tends to be very good." They are valued for their entrepreneurial skills and professional qualifications as well as their commitment to education.
Second is that the Hong Kongers seeking to leave are likely to be people who value liberty. They are likely to want to live in a country where liberty is protected. And that means they are not likely to be supporters of the Chinese Communist Party and its system of infiltration. As a sleepy Australia has been slowly waking to discover, this system is conducted at the official level through Chinese embassies and consulates, but more surreptitiously through the party's United Front Work Department.