A Federal MP has warned there could be food shortages in South Africa if white farmers are allowed to migrate en-masse to Australia.
The Government is considering options to help white South African farmers resettle in Australia, following reports of increased violence towards them.
Nationals MP Andrew Broad, who used to be president of the Victorian Farmers’ Federation and travelled to South Africa several years ago, said white farmers were essential to South Africa’s economy.
“If we take away the farmers from South Africa, we rob them of the capacity to farm that ground and ultimately feed the population,” Mr Broad said.
“So we’d be better to be working with the South African Government to make them value those white farmers, rather than trying to help them flee.”
Two decades after apartheid ended, the country is still grappling with how to restore land to black South Africans, and fears of a Zimbabwe-style land takeback are being dismissed by South Africa’s Government.
Mr Broad said an “even bigger humanitarian crisis”, like a food shortage, could emerge if the situation escalated.
“The great lesson from Zimbabwe is when you value your farmers, you have food on the supermarket shelves,” he said.
“The black South African farmers certainly have not proved themselves. They need the skillset of the white south African farmers if they’re going to have any chance of feeding the population they’ve got.”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has described the farmers as “persecuted” people who need help from a “civilised country”, but Mr Broad is urging his colleagues to be cautious.
“I would say it’s always easy to speak in ignorance and it’s important to be going over and having a look and seeing what’s happening on the ground before making policies,” he said.
“Andrew Broad is entitled to his position. He’s outspoken on a range of issues, and there’s no change here. So I welcome his contribution to public debate,” he said.
Mr Hastie will host the Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge in his electorate of Canning next month, at a forum for concerned South African expatriates.
Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, who used to live in South Africa and Zimbabwe, unsuccessfully moved a senate motion yesterday, calling on parliament to show its “moral support” for farmers affected.
“I’d like to think the South African Government would be embarrassed by the fact that we, in Australia, are taking an interest in this issue,” he said.
Senator Leyonhjelm said special visas should be a last resort and supported Mr Broad’s argument, that white farmers should remain on their farms, if it was safe enough.
“What will happen if it continues, is the productive white farms will be taken over by black farmers and the history is, as Zimbabwe shows, they don’t know how to run farms and produce food,” he said.
“That’s not because they’re not capable, but because it tends to be the cronies of the political elite who take over the farms, and they don’t know how to farm.”