- Australia is now offering white South African farmers a special visa
- This visa - the humanitarian visa - will allow farmers to immigrate faster
- South Africans are divided in feelings about these humanitarian visas
Earlier this year, the Australian home affairs minister Peter Dutton announced that Australia will be finding a faster way for white South African farmers to get visas. He said that the land reformation process is racially charged.
This controversial statement caused an uproar and let to Lindiwe Sisulu - the International Relations and Cooperation Minister - issuing a diplomatic démarche to Adam McCarthy, the Australian High Commissioner.
Sisulu demanded a retraction of Dutton's comments made on the South African land redistribution process. A diplomatic démarche is a fancy way of referring to a diplomatic or political initiative or maneuver.
Governments use démarches to object to or protest against actions by foreign governments.
The media reported Dutton saying that Australia is exploring ways to bring white South African farmers to the country on humanitarian grounds because of the violence on farms and the land distribution process. He called these incidents racially charged.
Dutton also said that South African farmers need special attention because they are being persecuted. He said that the white farmers need humanitarian visas from a civilised country such as Australia.
South Africa's ministerial spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya made a statement about the remarks:
It was communicated to the High Commissioner that the South African government is offended by the statements which have been attributed to the Australian Home Affairs Minister and a full retraction is expected.
Meanwhile, the Australian attorney-general Christian Porter has confirmed that he would be backing Dutton's idea of humanitarian visas for the South African farmers.
More than any other place in Australia, South Africans have made their home in the north coast of Western Australia, in my electorate
They are hardworking and make a huge contribution to our local community.
Porter further said that over the past 5 years his office has helped a steady stream of South Africans to immigrate to Australia.
I have always thought that, given their contribution, the more South Africans in our local community the better.
It has been confirmed by the Australian Home Affairs deputy secretary Malisa Golightly that more than 200 South Africans are currently in the process of applying for these humanitarian visas.
The type of criteria they of course have to meet – or the key one – is evidence of persecution, so that’s exactly what we will be looking at.
According to Golightly, the minister didn't ask her to prioritise South Africans. There would be no special attention given to South Africans.
Basically, like anybody, South Africans can apply for any visa they wish and they’ll be assessed against the criterion set out in the law.
In terms of processing, the normal arrangements apply where we assess the claims against whichever is the relevant criteria.
South Africans have mixed feelings about the humanitarian visas:
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