The campaign to "rescue" white farmers in the republic of South Africa is becoming the most extraordinary internal collapse of the right for a long time. It’s disgusting too, but we’re accustomed to that now. The racism of it is so bare, astounding and vicious that it will eat through what remains of Australian liberal-conservatism like acid -- is already doing so. But is it a new level of depravity? Or an utterly cynical campaign by Peter Dutton to retain preselection, and his marginal seat of Dickson?

The latter explanation would certainly fit with the way this hideous campaign has gone. Dutton has led it; selected elements of the yellow rightwing press have run with it – Jennifer Oriel and an astoundingly racist cartoon by Lobbecke (is there anything this man won’t draw?). Is it really being run by the "threatened whites" brigade, as part of a culture war? It’s a risky move if it is. Many Liberals, even those holding the line on mandatory detention, are going to find explicit race preference stomach-turning.