February 9th, 2010 by Ravi Matah | Posted in News   Comments Off on AUSTRALIA ACCEPTS RACIAL ATTACKS
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Despite various denials, Australia on Monday acknowledged that some of the recent violence against the Indian students there  had clearly been racially motivated and vowed to punish the guilty as stipulated in the provisions of law.

Stating that the attacks had considerably damaged the nation’s reputation, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told the Parliament that “if any of these attacks have been racist in nature – and it seems clear that some of them have – they will be punished with the full force of law”.

Smith said the attacks which have included robberies and beatings are “inexcusable” and were being taken very seriously by the government.

In a childish advice, the Victorian Police Simon Overland told International students  not to display their valuable watches, hide their ipods and not to display their valuable jewellery. The Indian government as well as the Indian public has critically reacted to this comical advice. Gautam Gupta, the spokesperson for the Federation of Indian students in Australia has ridiculed this advice and has stated that Indians don’t need to look poor for their own security. I wonder how would Overland like to dress himself if he visits India?

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also said that he was worried over the details of racism in Australia given by his Asian-origin son-in-law. Rudd said that his government’s efforts were aimed at improving safety of foreign students who worked late at night.

“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,” Rudd told ABC Television on Monday night.

According to Sky news TV channel, the experiences of Albert Tse, a Hong Kong-born banker who is married to Rudd’s daughter Jessica, were brought up during a question and answer forum with young people in Canberra last night.

In the TV show with young students, an Indian student also told the audience of his experiences of racism.

On the issue of race relations, he said Australians needed to keep “a weather eye” on racist incidents. “This country, Australia, is and shall be a tolerant country.”
Leaders and officials in Australia had earlier down played racism as a motive for attacks on Indians which have triggered outrage in India.

Smith’s remarks came just ahead of Indian High Commissioner Sujatha Singh’s visit to New Delhi to brief the government on the steps taken by Australia to prevent attacks on Indians. Singh is expected to be in New Delhi this week.

Describing the attacks as “contemptible”, Smith said these had cast a long shadow over relationship and ties with India.

Giving an update on the issue, the minister said, “we need to accept that it has considerably damaged Australia’s reputation in India and among the Indian people. Indeed, it has widely been noticed beyond India and South Asia.”

Offering condolences to the families of Indians attacked in Australia, Smith told the lawmakers that repairing the damage to the country’s image was an “essential priority.”

The foreign minister assured that India “was in the front rank” of nations in Australia’s international partnership and was fast emerging as nation’s third biggest export market behind China and Japan.

The two way trade between the two countries was nearly 22 billion Australian dollars last year. And a number of Indian companies were showing great interest in investing in Australia not only in mineral resources but agriculture and IT.

Addressing the Indian nationals in his country, Smith said, “we will continue to do our utmost to ensure that the children, Indian parents have entrusted to our care, remain safe and go back home with first class education.”

Ravi Matah

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