Waving the white tag

The only real conclusion is that Peter Dutton is a racist. This comes as no surprise, but the starkness of it bears recording.

To listen to Peter Dutton talk about white South Africans is to hear a man whose empathy is graded by colour. It took white suffering for him to realise there is injustice in the world.

“Certainly if you look at the footage and you read the stories, you hear the accounts, it’s an horrific circumstance that they face,” he said this week, of violence against white landowners in South Africa.

“And Australia has a refugee and humanitarian program, as well as a number of other visa programs where we have the potential to help some of these people that are being persecuted. So I’ve asked my department to look at options and ways in which we can provide some assistance, because I do think, on the information that I’ve seen, people do need help, and they need help from a civilised country like ours.”

When Dutton says civilised, he means white. His concern is only in his own image. Anglo faces have acquainted him with the functions of his own department.

The minister does not stop there, of course. His offer of sanctuary is a means by which to continue his demonisation of migrants. Even his compassion is grotesque.

“More importantly than that, the people we’re talking about want to work hard,” he says, the inverse imputation too obvious to require saying. “They want to contribute to a country like Australia, and that’s been the story of many migrants over a long period of time. So we want people that want to come here, abide by our laws, integrate into our society, work hard, not lead a life on welfare. I think these people deserve special attention and we’re certainly applying that special attention now.”

Dutton doesn’t name the other people – the ones who don’t want to integrate, don’t want to work, don’t want to abide by the law – because they don’t exist. They are a fancy of his racist invention.

In the same interview, Dutton criticised humanitarian bodies for not doing more to help white South Africans. “There’s plenty of hypocrisy within that space, unfortunately. We cop it every day in this portfolio.”

He said Labor was “weak and pathetic” on refugees and boasted about the number of visas he had cancelled as immigration minister. He boasted, too, about his capacity to override the decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

He linked immigration to paedophilia and claimed he would not accept refugees pretending to be homosexual when they are not.

Here is a man delusional about refugees, a man completely ill equipped for his office. Here is a minister who takes his foreign briefings from The Daily Telegraph and makes his announcements on internet radio.

Dutton pretends an interest in this country’s security, but in the same week he toys with giving weapons importers oversight for Australia’s gun policy.

He is so morally disfigured that his every utterance contains hypocrisy. His racism has tortured thousands of people. His ambition has now scarred the independence of our security agencies.

Dutton’s department continues to drag people from their homes. It continues to deport people into the hands of violence. He personally oversees the ruined lives of thousands of people, held in prisons as a warning to the rest of the world.

It is against this backdrop that he says his clearest truth: Australia is for the white man.

There is conflicting information on the situation in South Africa. Dutton knows this. But there is no conflict about the colour of these people’s skin. He knows this, too, and for a racist it is more important.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 17, 2018 as "Waving the white tag".

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