The Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, has requested that the Department of Immigration look into creating a special refugee intake comprised of white South African farmers who are under threat of violence and persecution.
The move comes as white farmers in South Africa are facing new moves from the government to forcibly redistribute their land without payment. Dutton has subsequently flagged the possibility of a special intake of white farmers, which has drawn comparisons to the 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees that Australia accepted between 2015 and 2017.
According to Dutton, the large number of South African’s already living in Australia would help ensure a seamless integration into the local community.
“I’ve asked the department to look at ways that we can provide some assistance. We could provide more visas for people potentially in the humanitarian program,” Dutton said.
“If people are being persecuted, regardless of whether it’s because of religion or the colour of their skin or whatever, we need to provide assistance where we can.”
“They work hard, they integrate well into Australian society, they contribute to make us a better country and they’re the sorts of migrants that we want to bring into our country.”
Earlier this month, Dutton informed the media that white South African farmers are a group that “need help from a civilised country like ours”, and are deserving of “special attention”.
“We have the potential to help some of these people that are being persecuted,” he said.
Dutton said that the Department of Home Affairs is working with partners in the region to resolve the issue, and is currently exploring whether the farmers could be given access to visas or the humanitarian program.
“There are existing visa categories where we can accommodate people and we’re just looking at the moment as to what might be feasible,” Dutton said.
“Hopefully we’ll make an announcement in due course.”
However, his comments have also been rebuked by the South African government, with foreign ministers saying that Dutton has overly exaggerated the threat facing white farmers and ignored the traditional diplomatic channels available for raising such an issue.
The South African foreign ministry has issued a statement blasting Dutton’s proposed refugee intake, saying that the danger supposedly facing white farmers is non-existent.
“That threat does not exist. There is no reason for any government in the world to suspect that a section of South Africans is under danger from their own democratically elected government,” the statement said.
“We regret that the Australian government chose not to use the available diplomatic channels available for them to raise concerns or to seek clarification.”
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