Australia's minister for immigration and border protection, Peter Dutton, reportedly said that his department is considering fast-tracking the visas of white South African farmers looking to emigrate to Australia, because the group deserves "special attention" owing to the "horrific circumstances" they face in South Africa.
"We regret that the Australian government chose not to use the available diplomatic channels available for them to raise concerns or to seek clarification".
"The people we're talking about want to work hard, they want to contribute to a country like Australia", he said. Under the current system, a refugee would first need to be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the Australian government.More news: Trent Murphy, Bills reportedly agree on 3-year, $21 million contract
"And I think these people deserve special attention and we're certainly applying that special attention now", Dutton said.
His comments come just months after asylum-seekers and refugees held in a remote Pacific camp were awarded Aus$70 million ($56 million) for being illegally detained and treated negligently in Australia's largest human rights class action settlement. "The South African government has been very clear; the matter is now before Parliament and all stakeholders [will] be consulted - and they can also engage with Parliament", Mabaya said.
"That threat does not exist", the South African foreign ministry in Pretoria told Reuters.
But the South African Government has dismissed fears expressed by Mr Dutton for the safety of the farmers, saying its citizens are not in danger.More news: Delhi Metro: Pink Line starts today
Although violent crime is a serious issue across South African society, killings on farms, the vast majority of which are white-owned, has become a particularly racially charged issue.
Thousands of people signed a petition earlier this month to allow white farmers from South Africa to emigrate to the US after South Africa's Parliament supported a motion to that would strip farmers of their land without compensation.
Afriforum, a rights group that mainly represents the views of the white Afrikaner minority, describes being a white farmer as one of the most risky jobs in the country, saying a white farmer is twice as likely to be murdered as a policemen, and four times as likely as a private citizen.More news: Fortis Healthcare shares gain on open offer talk