NEWS
16/03/2018 11:19 SAST | Updated 16/03/2018 11:51 SAST

Dutton's Department Responds To SA Remarks, But Doesn't Say Much

"The department is monitoring the situation of minority groups in South Africa ... for potential resettlement under the offshore humanitarian programme."

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Peter Dutton.

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."

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.

In response, South Africa demanded on Thursday that Dutton retract his comments.

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.

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?