A total of 213 white South Africans—farmers and their families—have applied for asylum in Australia following the earlier announcement by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton that he would “fast track” applications from racially-persecuted whites in that country.
According to a report in Australia’s 9News, there have so far been a total of 89 applications relating to 213 people. There is however at this stage no guarantee that they will be granted asylum.
“The type of criteria they of course have to meet—or the key one—is evidence of persecution, so that’s exactly what we will be looking at,” Home Affairs deputy secretary Malisa Golightly told a a Senate committee in Canberra on Tuesday this week.
The 9News report said that Golightly, responding to questions from Greens senator Nick McKim, said Minster Dutton had not asked her to prioritize South Africans and, as far as the department was concerned, there was no special attention being given.
“Basically, like anybody, South Africans can apply for any visa they wish and they’ll be assessed against the criterion set out in the law,” Golightly said.
“In terms of processing, the normal arrangements apply where we assess the claims against whichever is the relevant criteria.”
Dutton is able to decide which visa decisions he takes and which ones he delegates to his department.
“In terms of those from South Africa, the minister has asked us to prepare the assessment—the work that normally goes into assessing—for submission to him,” Golightly said.
“He will then make a decision about whether he takes the decision or delegates that to the department.”
According to the Australian Government’s Law Reform Commission, to qualify for asylum, an applicant must show “essential and significant reason(s), for the persecution,” that the “persecution involves ‘serious harm’ to the person,” and that the “persecution involves ‘systematic and discriminatory conduct.”
Instances of “serious harm” as provided for in terms of Australia’s Migration Act include:
* a threat to the person’s life or liberty;
* significant physical harassment of the person;
* significant physical ill-treatment of the person;
* significant economic hardship that threatens the person’s capacity to subsist; and
* denial of capacity to earn a livelihood of any kind, where the denial threatens the person’s capacity to subsist.
In April, Australia’s attorney-general Christian Porter confirmed that he would back Dutton’s proposal of special visas for South African farmers.
“More than any other place in Australia, South Africans have made their home in the north coast of Western Australia, in my electorate,” Porter said.
“They are hardworking and make a huge contribution to our local community.”
He added that over the past five years his office had helped a steady stream of South Africans with immigration issues.
“I have always thought that, given their contribution, the more South Africans in our local community the better,” the attorney-general said.