South Africa has demanded Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton withdraw comments suggesting persecuted white farmers need protection from a “civilised country”.
Canberra’s high commissioner has been hauled in for a meeting with officials in Pretoria after Mr Dutton said the farmers deserved protections under special visas from Australia. South Africa has rejected his suggestion that white farmers are facing “horrific circumstances”.
“I do think, on the information I’ve seen, people do need our help and they need help from a civilised country like ours,” Mr Dutton had said, suggesting an announcement could be made soon about special visa support.
But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has defended Mr Dutton’s remarks, denying there’s a double standard in him speaking up for white South African farmers but not Palestinian farmers persecuted by Israel.
“I reject that – what we do in our humanitarian visa program is assess visas on their merits and that’s what Peter Dutton as home affairs minister does everyday,” she told ABC radio on Friday.
But she said she and Mr Dutton were working to determine if any changes were needed to the offshore humanitarian visa program. Ms Bishop wouldn’t comment on High Commissioner Adam McCarthy being hauled in for a meeting, but said he was in regular contact with the South African government about Australian concerns.
She said Australia wanted the nation to ensure the safety of all citizens, and ensure any changes to land ownership won’t disrupt the economy or lead to violence.