Home Opinion and Features Pouring fuel onto the fire

Pouring fuel onto the fire


There’s also the small matter of the constitution, which will have to be amended via a two-thirds majority

Peter Dutton is Australia's home affairs minister. File picture: Rob Griffith/AP

IT’S BEEN said a diplomat thinks twice before saying nothing. Peter Dutton, the Australian Home Affairs Minister, not only failed to observe this dictum, but has created a diplomatic spat between two countries.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Dutton said his country was considering the fast-tracking of visas for “persecuted” white South African farmers.

“If you look at the footage and read the stories, you hear the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance they face. From what I have seen, they (white South African farmers) need help from a civilised country like ours.”

Dutton has ordered his department to explore whether the farmers can be accepted into Australia through refugee, humanitarian or other visas, including the in-country persecution visa category.

We are not sure what sparked this showman’s ire. Is he referring to vacant land invasions, seen in some areas in recent days? To the “land expropriation without compensation” legislation currently under discussion in Parliament? Or to farm murder statistics?

If it is the former, President Cyril Ramaphosa has already said that land invasions are unlawful and will not be tolerated.

If it is the February 27 land expropriation without compensation Parliamentary motion, Dutton is jumping the gun. The government has not revealed how this process will take place, besides giving the undertaking that food security – presumably farming operations – won’t be threatened. Widespread consultations with all sections of the South African stakeholders are still to take place.

There’s also the small matter of the constitution, which will have to be amended via a two-thirds majority.

If it is farm murders that raised Dutton’s hackles, he would do well to reflect on what is happening in South Africa.

He is wrong to single out white farmers as the target of crime. White and black farmers – as well as farmworkers – are all crime victims, as are all other South Africans in all spheres of life.

There was no evidence to support the notion that white farmers are targeted more than anyone else in the country.

In fact, statistics show black South Africans are the most affected by crime, landlessness and violence. Dutton’s ring-fencing of white victims for visas betrays the widely held view that Australia is welcoming only to white immigrants.

We have enough race problems.

utton must not pour fuel onto an already volatile situation.