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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 31, July 18, 2009

Serious Misrepresentation

Saturday 18 July 2009

rejoinder

In his article “Diffident Us versus Combative Them” [Mainstream (June 27, 2009)], T.J.S. George has seriously misrepresented the attitude of the Australian Government towards the recent incidents involving Indian students in Australia. Addressing the Parliament on June 2, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd spoke in unequivocal terms: “I speak on behalf of all Australians when I say that we deplore and condemn these attacks. These are senseless acts of violence. Those who carry out these attacks stand condemned. These acts of violence... deserve to be met with the full force of the law.”

The Prime Minister has taken the issue so seriously that he has asked his National Security Adviser to chair a special task force on crimes against international students. It is ludicrous for Mr George to suggest that Mr Rudd has encouraged ‘White thugs’ to commit more acts of violence. Other senior Ministers of the federal government have repeatedly and unreservedly condemned the attacks. The Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, has made it clear that Australia abhors racism: “Any attack on an individual because of race, culture, gender or appearance is disgraceful and unacceptable.”

Mr George also quite falsely claims Australian law enforcement agencies have been ‘almost indifferent’ to the attacks. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Victoria Police have taken resolute action, doubling the size of the relevant robbery task force and increasing the deployment of officers in and around Melbourne train stations. Operation Safe Stations has improved safety at train stations, resulting in the arrest of 258 people so far. New CCTV facilities have been installed at train stations and a mobile CCTV van is monitoring trouble spots. The New South Wales Police have also stepped by their own efforts, especially in Harris Park in Sydney where many Indian students live. Investigations into specific cases involving Indian students are continuing and many arrests have been made.

Australia is determined to address this problem in a resolute and comprehensive manner and the actions of the Australian and State governments bear this out. Australia is a culturally diverse and welcoming country which will never tolerate the violence of thugs and hooligans.

July 15, 2009 Dr Lachlan Strahan

Australian High Commission, New Delhi (Deputy High Commissioner, Australia)

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