Australia considering fast-tracking visas for white South African farmers

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says the farmers are facing ‘horrific circumstances’ as violence spreads

Peter Dutton, Australia
Peter Dutton has been criticised over proposal
(Image credit: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Australian government is considering fast-tracking visas for white South African farmers amid reports of land seizures and violence across the African nation.

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton today told Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph that white farmers “deserve special attention”, and that his department is looking into fast-tracking their path to Australia on humanitarian or other visa programmes.

Concerns have been raised in recent weeks over newly elected South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s proposed legal changes to allow “land expropriation without compensation” in his country.

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South African government spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said Ramaphosa has “made it clear” that the process of land redistribution will be “orderly, within South African laws, and taking into consideration both social and economic impact”. But according to information obtained by Sky News Australia, white farmers in South Africa are being murdered at a rate of more than one per week.

“If you look at the footage and read the stories, you hear the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance they face,” Dutton told the Australian Telegraph.

“The people we’re talking about want to work hard, they want to contribute to a country like Australia.

“We want people who want to come here, abide by our laws, integrate into our society, work hard, not lead a life on welfare. And I think these people deserve special attention and we’re certainly applying that special attention now. From what I have seen, they do need help from a civilised country like ours.”

However, the proposal has been met with criticism both within Australia and abroad.

“[Dutton] should have at least checked with his counterpart in South Africa [Malusi Gigaba], the president, the embassy, or various agricultural unions like Afasa or Agri SA,” African Farmers Association chief executive Neo Masithela said. “It is unfortunate that he made such statements on the whim of his views.”

Twitter users also took aim at Dutton for favouring white immigrants over those from other ethnic groups. Dutton has previously said that refugees who come to Australia by boat looking for protection from persecution are “illegal”. The Australian government has reportedly turned back 31 boats carrying a total of 771 asylum seekers since 2013.

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