White farmers facing violence in South Africa “deserve special attention” from Australia, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has said.
- Dutton says white farmers in South Africa facing land seizures, violence
- Department looking at visas and humanitarian options
- South African Government dismissed Mr Dutton’s fears, says citizens not in danger
Mr Dutton has ordered his department to investigate how to bring the farmers, who he says are facing “horrific circumstances” of land seizures and violence, to Australia.
He said he had “hope” some of the farmers could be settled in Australia, declaring: “We have the potential to help some of these people that are being persecuted.”
He added that he wanted to explore whether the farmers could access visas or humanitarian programs.
“People do need help and they need help from a civilised country like ours,” Mr Dutton told News Corp.
“There are existing visa categories where we can accommodate people and we’re just looking at the moment as to what might be feasible and hopefully we’ll make an announcement in due course.”
But the South African Government has dismissed fears expressed by Mr Dutton for the safety of the farmers, saying its citizens are not in danger.
Farmers’ group Afriforum SA has expressed gratitude to Mr Dutton for acknowledging the attacks on white farmers.
But deputy chief executive Ernst Roets said most South Africans would prefer to stay on home soil.
“We would like to solve the problem in South Africa. So we don’t necessarily think the solution is for everyone to leave the country,” he said.
Mr Roets said the Australian Government should engage with South African officials.
Mr Dutton said the farmers could make a contribution to Australian life.
“The people we’re talking about want to work hard, they want to contribute to a country like Australia,” he said.
“We want people that 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.”