Australia's home affairs department says it is monitoring minority groups in South Africa to consider potential resettlement under its offshore humanitarian programme.
In an official response to HuffPost questions, Australia's home affairs department said: "As the minister for home affairs [Peter Dutton] has previously stated, he has asked the department to have a look at options and ways in which Australia can provide some assistance ... The department is monitoring the situation of minority groups in South Africa in the context of consideration for potential resettlement under the offshore humanitarian programme."
#Australia Sisulu: We will not allow anybody (right wing or not) to use an opportunity which we are trying to tread sensitively on and abuse that by creating panic. ML— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) March 16, 2018
Dutton earlier said that his department was considering fast-tracking the visas of white South African farmers looking to emigrate to Australia, because the group deserves "special attention" owing to the "horrific circumstances" they face in South Africa.
Pretoria hauled in Canberra's high commissioner for a diplomatic ticking-off over Dutton's remarks, particularly those regarding white farmers facing "horrific circumstances" – a characterisation South Africa has rejected.
#Australia Sisulu: So we are now demanding a retraction of the statement, because it was mislead, it is causing panic and it is harming our image abroad. We are offended by that. ML— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) March 16, 2018
HuffPost asked a series of questions of Australian home affairs, which went unanswered – the two sentences above were the only response HuffPost received.
Among the details still awaiting clarification are these: how does the Australian government determine the "level of civilisation" of a particular country? And given that all South Africans face a higher risk of brutal, violent crime than Australians, why are only white South Africans to be offered asylum in a "civilised country" like Australia.
What are the details of the immigration department's plans to fast-track visas, and how does a farmer apply? If only white farmers, as per Dutton's comments, are eligible, how will Australian immigration authorities determine whether or not a farmer is "white"?
Will white South Africans who are not farmers, but nevertheless feel they're in "horrific circumstances", also be welcomed? When will the fast-tracked visa regime take effect?