Politics

Dutton’s Plan To Save White South Africans Comes Almost Entirely From ‘The Daily Telegraph’

It's more cooked than you think.

peter dutton

This week we got confirmation that Australia’s “tough” border control policies are just a charade. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed, once and for all, our immigration and refugee policies aren’t about “proper process” and “playing by the rules”. They’re about making sure just some refugees, are forced to play by the rules. For others, the rules mean nothing.

On Wednesday Dutton announced that he wanted the Department of Home Affairs to give “special attention” to white South Africans, and to explore whether they could be brought to Australia through refugee or humanitarian visas.

“We want people who want to come here, abide by our laws, integrate into our society, work hard, not lead a life on welfare,” Dutton said. “And I think these people deserve special attention and we’re certainly applying that special attention now.

“From what I have seen they do need help from a civilised country like ours,” he added.

Basically everything Dutton said is extremely cooked. Firstly he’s suggesting that white South Africans are inherently more likely to “abide by our laws”, “integrate into our society” and “work hard” than other migrant groups. He’s also attacked other migrants for apparently leading “a life on welfare”.

But he’s also suggested that Australia has a particular obligation to help white South Africans, which completely undercuts the ongoing rhetoric from this government that people seeking asylum have numerous potential safe havens aside from Australia. Just last year the government signed a deal with the US to literally ship refugees overseas, because they didn’t want them in Australia.

Dutton’s newfound enthusiasm for refugees is quite extraordinary given our notorious refugee policies, and the fact his department is currently trying to deport a Tamil asylum seeker. So what’s changed? Well, basically nothing… except for an extremely intense media campaign from The Daily Telegraph.

Why Are We Talking About South Africa All Of A Sudden?

The South African parliament recently passed a motion endorsing the expropriation of land owned by white farmers without compensation. According to the government only 8 percent of farmland has been transferred into black ownership since the end of apartheid — well short of the 30 percent target that was supposed to have been reached by 2014.

The issue didn’t really hit the media until last week when journalist Paul Toohey wrote a story in The Daily Telegraph about the violence faced by some white farmers. According to Toohey, white farmers are being killed at a rate of “one or two” per week, and the violence has spiralled so far out of control there are calls for white South Africans to be granted refugee status.

Similar stories about white farmers being murdered at a much higher rate than the rest of the population have been circulating for the past few months, but according to the BBC there’s little evidence to back up the assertion that the murders are racially targeted.

Regardless of the lack of data, the story has taken hold in Australia. In an opinion piece for The Daily Telegraph Caroline Marcus wrote “The situation has become so bleak, being a farmer in South Africa is now the world’s most dangerous job”. She presented zero evidence in support of that extraordinary statement.

Marcus went on to compare the murders of white farmers to the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and Invasion Day protests in Australia, before suggesting white South Africans should be eligible for refugee visas.

Then on Wednesday Miranda Devine wrote another column for The Daily Telegraph which explicitly called on the government to provide humanitarian assistance, in the form of refugee visas, to white South African farmers.

Peter Dutton Jumped On Board Straight Away

Who cares what a bunch of right-wing columnists at News Corp have to say? They always write weird columns, right? Well, it turns out Peter Dutton cares. In fact, he cares so much that 24 hours after Devine’s column was published he went on her radio show, Miranda Live, to announce he had ordered his department to investigate how white South Africans could be “fast-tracked” into Australia.

That’s where things get really, really messed up.

Even if you’re convinced that white South Africans are experiencing a particularly high level of persecution and need Australia’s humanitarian support — like the 12,000 Syrians and Iraqis we gave refugee visas to last year — do you really think Dutton should be making policy in response to fired up Daily Tele columnists?

This government loves trumpeting its tough border control policies, and lately Dutton has even been talking about cutting our overall migrant intake. But apparently all of that just disappears after one column by Miranda Devine. It didn’t seem like this government could come up with a worse way to develop immigration policy, but here we are.

But all of that still assumes that white South Africans are more deserving of Australia’s humanitarian assistance than every other group of potential refugees, including those languishing on Manus Island thanks to our policies. No one in this debate has been able to demonstrate why that should be the case.

Even Dutton isn’t actually arguing that they’re more in need of help. His position is, somehow, even worse. He’s saying we need to give them “special assistance” because they’ll “integrate” better. Strip away the barely disguised dog whistling and it’s clear what’s saying: we’re going to fast-track them because they’re white South Africans.