Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, who led backbenchers urging the government to give refuge to white South African farmers, says no special visa category is needed because they should be protected under Australia’s current refugee program.
The West Australian MP, one of six backbenchers who last week told the Coalition partyroom the government should assist the farmers, said he was not seeking special treatment for the group. He noted Australia had responded with one-off refugee intakes in past humanitarian crises as he hit back at the “Green-left” who he said had turned the issue into one about race.
“We have a non-discriminatory approach to our humanitarian visa program and on that basis the question of race is irrelevant. The issue is simply whether these people are in danger, and I think the evidence bears that out. ” Mr Hastie said. “Those on the left who bring up race are using it as a political smokescreen. For Nick McKim, Sarah Hanson-Young and others to suggest we are doing this on the basis of race is utterly false. They’ve tried to hijack this debate through the prism of identity politics, and we are refusing to accept those terms.