M A I N   N E W S

Finally, Oz admits some attacks racist
Dinesh Kumar writes from Melbourne

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith admitted on Tuesday that some of the attacks on Indians in his country were indeed racist in nature and pressed the need to build strong ties with New Delhi.

“If any of these attacks have been racist in nature — and it seems clear some of them have — they will be punished with the full force of the law. Such attacks affront our values and are anathema to our view of modern Australia,” Smith said. But he added that while Australia was one of the world’s most tolerant countries and one of the safest, “we cannot promise to stop all urban crime. No government can credibly do that”.

Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Victoria’s Opposition leader Ted Baillieu also joined Smith in conceding to and expressing concern over racist-based violence against sections of the Indian community, with Smith offering his government’s ‘condolences’ to the families of Indian nationals attacked in Australia. Smith told parliament on Tuesday that the attacks had “considerably damaged” Australia’s reputation and repairing the subsequent damage to the country’s image was an “essential priority”.

In Melbourne, Australia’s centre of most attacks against Indians, Victoria’s opposition leader Ted Baillieu and Premier John Brumby engaged in a war of words over the issue of attacks on Indian students. Addressing the Australian India Business Council on Monday night, Baillieu said that many attacks against Indians were the result of ‘racist violence’ that had been allowed to escalate while the government preferred to be ‘in denial’ and provide excuses attracting international condemnation.

Brumby hit back with his spokeswoman saying that Baillieu should know better than to use divisive and inflammatory comments. The Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs, James Merlino, slammed Baillieu saying that he has “cynically cultivated race politics and sought to manipulate the issue for his own political gain. Now he is fanning race issues again by calling Victorian mums and dads racist”.

Admitting that some attacks against Indians had been racist-motivated in a signed article published in The Australian newspaper today, Brumby went on to list a series of police measures and other initiatives to address the ongoing problem. This includes establishing a comprehensive International Student Care Service, boosting funding for the Indian International Student Advisory Centre, greater search and seizure powers for the police force and a crackdown on crime at train stations among other measures.

Inputs from Chinese son-in-law worry Rudd

A surprising revelation came from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who said he was worried over the stories his son-in-law of Chinese origin has been telling him about racism in the country. “My son-in-law is Chinese, from Hong Kong. I hear stories from him from time to time which make me really worried about what might be going on out there,” said Rudd, who then went on to assure foreign students - including Indian - that his government was working hard to improve their safety.




Brumby briefs Indian envoy to Australia

Melbourne: Under pressure to check the attacks on Indians here, Victorian Premier John Brumby has met Indian High Commissioner to Australia Sujatha Singh and briefed her on the measures put in place to improve law and order and the safety of foreign students in the state.

Singh's meeting with Brumby on Sunday came ahead of her visit to New Delhi to brief the Indian government on the steps taken by Australia to prevent attacks on Indians, mainly in the state of Victoria. During the meeting, issues relating to the security of the overseas students in Melbourne came up for discussion. The meeting followed Brumby's request after Singh made stinging remarks against his government, saying Victoria was in "a state of denial". — PTI



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