Colleagues defend Dutton on South Africa

By , 25/04/2020 19:36

Julie Bishop has defended colleague Peter Dutton’s comments about persecuted South African farmers.Colleagues are defending Peter Dutton despite calls from South Africa for him to 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 the home affairs minister said the farmers deserved protections under special visas from .

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.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said suggestions Mr Dutton was being racist were “laughable”.

The government has already been able to help Syrians and Iraqis under its refugee program.

“Now when other issues emerge, including these persecuted white farmers I think it’s wholly appropriate that we look at it because there are persecuted groups all around the world,” he told Sky News on Friday.

Mr Sukkar said expats here are sharing horrific stories with n MPs.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop denied there was a double standard in Mr Dutton 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.

But she said she and Mr Dutton were working to determine if any changes were needed to the offshore humanitarian visa program.

Ms Bishop said High Commissioner Adam McCarthy was in regular contact with the South African government about n concerns.

She said 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.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said he didn’t know what motivated Mr Dutton to make the comments.

“There are some media reports that would indicate some farmers are experiencing difficulty,” Mr Shorten told ABC radio.

“I have to say though I also read media reports that other South Africans can be the victims of crime.”

Mr Shorten said has a non-discriminatory immigration system.

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