Australian Home Affairs minister, Peter Dutton, has stated that he is now actively considering “several” applications from South African farmers for refugee or humanitarian status in Australia.
This follows the issuing of a diplomatic démarche by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to the Australian High Commissioner in March, in which she demanded a retraction of the comments made by Dutton on the South African land redistribution process.
The issue appeared resolved after Sisulu announced that the Australia had apologised and issued a retraction of the statement, but Dutton has indicated to Australian media that this was not the case.
Speaking to Sky News, Dutton said that government has not gone back on his comments last month, and that white South African farmers needed protection.
He said that he had seen a letter from the Commissioner sent to Sisulu, but added that it had not contained suggestions of repudiation or retraction.
“I’m not sure what domestic issues are at play in terms of the politics in South Africa that would bring this comment out but it’s not based on any factual statement of anyone within the Australian government,” Dutton told Sky News.
He said that the Australian government’s position remained as it was, and that the refugee and humanitarian programme was still available to eligible people.
“In fact we’re having a look at several now,” he said.