A special motion initiated by Liberal party members to fast-track approval of applications of white South African farmers for asylum in Australia was rejected by its Federal Council after a former immigration minister interjected.
Liberal party members introduced an amendment to the motion by changing the description of “South African minorities targeted by hate crimes” to “European farmers”. They did this in an attempt to give the farmers special and immediate attention.
The tide turned during a contentious debate when former immigration minister Phillip Ruddock addressed the crowd and countered that giving white South African farmers priority attention for the humanitarian Visa was against what Australia was all about:
“The problem is that we have something in the order of 65 million people around the world displaced, 22 and a half million of them refugees. Now I hate to say it, as much as I might like; we can’t help them all. The question is who do you help? And that is always the question.
“And I am not saying you shouldn’t help South African farmers if they are being discriminated against, any more than I would argue that there are others that should not be helped.
“My view is, at the moment, our arrangements enable all minorities targeted, to be able to seek asylum in Australia, by way of an appropriate application and they have to be considered objectively by Australian officials.”
Peter Dutton started the ball rolling on the issue of granting white South African farmers special consideration for the humanitarian visa. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed on a radio show that an estimated 400 white farmers from South Africa were brutally murdered over the past year.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop challenged the urgency of granting the white South African farmers asylum due the rise in the incidence of hate crime:
“Australia does monitor the rate of violent crime in South Africa and there has been no dramatic increase in recent years. We do have a humanitarian visa program if any person feels they are persecuted, they can apply to Australia for a humanitarian visa and I believe that is what Peter Dutton is referring to.”