Sarah Martin, The West Australian, April 9, 2018
Liberal MPs are calling on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to relax visa rules and accept a special humanitarian intake of up to 10,000 South African farmers, saying the Federal Government should do “whatever is required” to help them settle in Australia.
After more than 2000 members of the South African community rallied in Perth at the weekend to protest against what they claim is akin to “black apartheid” under the rule of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, WA MPs Andrew Hastie and Ian Goodenough are leading an internal push for the Government to do more to support the farmers.
Mr Dutton is being urged to establish a special humanitarian intake, similar to the 12,000 additional places created for Syrian refugees under the Abbott government in 2015, and to relax age restrictions for migrants aged over 45 wanting to apply under the skilled migration program.
Likening the situation to the Syrian crisis, Mr Hastie said there was “no doubt” that South African farmers were being persecuted, with the conservative MP receiving one email yesterday from a woman who had been brutally raped and shot on her citrus farm.
“The Australian Government should do whatever to resettle these farmers here,” he said.
“There are both compelling humanitarian and economic reasons.
“We did it for persecuted Syrian minorities. Why not these people?”
Mr Goodenough said he supported Australia accepting a “reasonable figure” for a special intake of South African migrants, saying that up to 10,000 people was not a “huge amount”.
“We have a big population here of South Africans — they have contacted my office in quite the number,” he said.
“But we also receive representations on behalf of the Rohingya people and Middle Eastern groups, so it is all about being even-handed and meeting this need which greatly outstrips the number of places.”
Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge will meet members of WA’s South African community at a forum being hosted by Mr Hastie and Mr Goodenough in Lakelands tonight. Mr Tudge says he will reassure them that they have a pathway to resettle in Australia.
“I will be reassuring the participants at the forum that South Africans are eligible to apply for the Australian humanitarian program,” he said.
Pleased to stand alongside our South African community in Perth today with my colleague Andrew Hastie MP. We support favourable consideration being given to the humanitarian intake of farmers facing persecution to develop rural and regional Australia. pic.twitter.com/v9QbalxfbE
— Ian Goodenough (@IanGoodenoughMP) April 8, 2018