Australian Minister Defends Plan for White South African Visas

By Chuma Kisu

Peter Dutton

Peter Dutton

According to international reports, after receiving criticism from South Africa and the world community, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, has defended his plan to fast-track visas for White South African farmers.

On Thursday, Dutton told reporters that there had been “lots of outrage” from “some of the crazy lefties at the ABC, Guardian, the Huffington Post … [who] draw mean cartoons about me.”

“They don’t realize how completely dead they are to me,” he said.

Dutton said Australia’s immigration program was “solely based on our national interest” and claimed he was “completely blind to somebody’s skin color – it makes no difference to me.”

The home affairs minister said his department was looking at whether individual cases met the criteria for persecution, but did not repeat his offer to fast-track White South African farmers. “If people think I’ll cower or take a backwards step due to their nonsense fabricated news criticism they’ve got another thing coming,” he stated.

As well as facing criticism in the media, Dutton’s colleagues have been lukewarm on the idea.

Andrew Broad, a member of Australia’s House of Representatives, who was a wheat and sheep farmer before he entered federal parliament – has publicly undermined Peter Dutton’s call to give the farmers “special attention” for immigration to Australia.

Dutton’s comments have prompted fury from the South African government and have been rejected by other ministers such as Julie Bishop and Mathias Cormann, who have noted the non-discriminatory nature of the humanitarian visa program.

On Thursday, March 22, 2018, Broad – who travelled to South Africa during his four-year tenure as president of the Victorian Farmers Federation – told reporters: “If we take away the farmers in South Africa, we rob them of the capacity to farm that ground and feed the population.”

Broad continued, “The Black South African farmers certainly have not proved themselves. They need the skill set of the White South African farmers if they’re going to have any chance of feeding the population that they’ve got.”

Academic studies of land reform provide some support for Broad’s position with experts suggesting productive redistribution has been hampered by inadequate post-settlement support, lack of skills, poor planning and infighting within communities.

Dutton’s claims that White South African farmers are persecuted have been denied by the South African government and debunked by experts including Gareth Newham at the Institute for Security Studies.

Newham said: “In fact, young black males living in poor urban areas like Khayelitsha and Lange face a far greater risk of being murdered. The murder rate there is between 200 and 300 murders per 100,000 people.”

The highest estimates of farm murders stand at 133 per 100,000 people, and that includes both Black and White murder victims.

A fact-checking organization, Africa Check, suggested in a detailed report on the subject of farm murders in general – not just of White farmers – that another credible estimate of the farm murder rate could be as low as 0.4 murders per 100,000 people.

Broad said: “It’s always easy to speak in ignorance and it’s important be going over and having a look at what’s going on on the ground before making policy.”

The Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm – who used to live in South Africa and Zimbabwe – cited the example of Zimbabwe to warn against land redistribution.

He said Black farmers “don’t know how to run the farms productively and produce food – not because they’re not capable of being productive farmers – but because it tends to be the cronies of the political elite that take over the farms and they don’t know how to farm.”

Dutton’s push to advantage White South African farmers has been supported by the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott who has described the situation in South Africa as a “national crisis.”

But Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has warned Australia would not be making special visa considerations for White South African farmers.

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