A fraction of South Africans seeking refuge in Australia have had their applications approved over the last decade, according to new departmental figures, as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton (pictured) instructs his department to accept claims from persecuted farmers.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has been a vocal supporter of Minister Dutton's position on South African farmers this year.
The Australian can reveal just 41 of 350 applications from South Africans under the offshore humanitarian and refugee program have been accepted since 2008, with 213 people still waiting to hear if their requests have been successful as of May 22
In a letter to Liberal Party federal director Andrew Hirst, obtained by The Australian, Mr Dutton confirmed he had written to his department asking that it “accept and consider” applications from South Africa — including farmers and landowners — alongside those people from the Middle East, Asia and other African regions.
The revelation follows a controversial push from Liberal MPs for a special intake of up to 10,000 persecuted South Africans, which Greens leader Richard Di Natale smeared as a 'return to the White Australia policy'.
In Mr Dutton’s letter, dated July 31 of this year, he said: “I have instructed my department to provide me with advice on the current and future applications and all applications from South Africans will be carefully considered on their merits.
Senator Bernardi told Channel 7's Today Tonight, persecuted South African farmers would be welcome here and would positively contribute to Australian society.
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