Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton speaks to reporters in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Rod McGuirk/AP

Johannesburg - Australia’s moves to “fast track” visas for South Africa’s white farmers has prompted a protest by the South African government.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Thursday sent a letter of protest the Australian High Commissioner Adam McCarthy, demanding a retraction of comments made by his country’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

On Wednesday Dutton in an interview with a right wing columnist in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper said the following about white South African farmers: ““If you look at the footage and read the stories, you hear the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance they face.”

Dutton was responding to violence on farms and the prospect of white farmers having their land expropriated without compensation after a motion was passed in parliament last month to change the property clause in South Africa’s constitution.

He further added that these farmers “need help from a civilised country like ours”.

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“We want people who want to come here, abide by our laws, integrate into our society, work hard, not lead a life on welfare. And I think these people deserve special attention and we’re certainly applying that special attention now,” Dutton told the newspaper.

On Thursday he announced, through his twitter account, that his department would implement moves to expedite the visa process for white South African farmers.

In response the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said: “It was communicated to the High Commissioner that the South African Government is offended by the statements which have been attributed to the Australian Home Affairs Minister and a full retraction is expected.

“The High Commissioner who was accompanied by his Deputy High Commissioner undertook to immediately communicate with the Australian Government to convey the message from the Minister and South African Government.”

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