Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop has said that there will be no special program of humanitarian visas for white South African farmers, and that all applications will be subject to the usual scrutiny—a move which appears to reject her Home Affairs minister colleague Peter Dutton’s earlier proposal to fast track such applications.
Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Insiders program, Bishop said there were no plans to treat South African applicants any differently under Australia’s humanitarian visa program.
“We do have a humanitarian visa program if any person feels they are persecuted, then they can apply to Australia for a humanitarian visa, and that would be considered on its merits, and I believe that that’s what Peter Dutton is referring to.
“I believe the humanitarian programs’s credibility comes from the fact that it is nondiscriminatory and that each application is assessed on its merits. That’s been the case under the Turnbull government, and as far as I’m aware, there are no plans to change that visa program.”
For his part, Dutton defended his plan to fast-track visas for white South African farmers, telling Australian 2GB Radio 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.
He said his department would look at whether individual cases met the criteria for persecution, but crucially 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.”
Nationals MP Andrew Broad warned ABC’s AM that “if we take away the farmers in South Africa, we rob them of the capacity to farm that ground and feed the population.
“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.”
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 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”.
At the same time, thousands of whites rallied in Brisbane outside Australia’s parliament in support of Dutton’s plan, and were supported by Queensland senator Fraser Anning and Liberal MP Andrew Laming.
Senator Anning told the crowd that people who were attacking the farmers were “subhuman” and that it was all “the start of a genocide.”
“This is the start of a genocide as far as I’m concerned, and it’s only going to get worse because the genocide has just started.”
“Anyone who would boil a child in a bath, rape his mother and slaughter people the way they are slaughtering them now are subhuman.”
“These people, when they do take over the farms, as we’ve seen in Rhodesia [Zimbabwe], the farms will run into ruin.
“Within a few more years they’ll be asking, demanding our support, and you can be sure that the United Nations will be demanding that we support these people with foreign aid.”
“South Africans are industrious, they’re hardworking, they have the same Christian values, as opposed to some of the other people we’ve been bringing into the country”, who, he said, were “intent on tearing our country apart.”
Laming told the crowd that attacks on white farmers in South Africa were sending them the message to “effectively, get out of our country”.
He praised his “great colleague Peter Dutton”, saying “he could have ignored [farmers] completely, and hid behind PC departments, who continue to say the murder rate here is no different from the murder rate down the road”.