Opposition leader slams Victoria government over attacks on Indians

February 9th, 2010 - 9:27 am ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Feb 9 (IANS) Accusing the Victoria government of downplaying the racial violence against Indians, Australia’s opposition leader said the state has failed to confront the problem.
Victoria has a serious and increasing problem with racist attacks on Indian students, but the state government is in denial and blaming the victims, Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said.

Many of the assaults were the result of “racist violence” and Premier John Brumby had failed to confront the problem, Baillieu said Monday.

Addressing the Australia India Business Council, Baillieu said Victoria did not have a racist society but “a minority of individuals whose racist behaviour is creating fear and terror for many who live in our community”.

“There are some who say these are not racial attacks. To those people let me say this: .. In the course of those assaults they were racially abused,” he added.

Baillieu also slammed the state police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland for his advice to international students that they should “look poor” by not displaying expensive items such as laptops and iPods to avoid attacks, The Age reported.

The opposition leader said the problem of racial violence had been allowed to escalate while the government provided excuses, attracting international condemnation.

“Leadership is not… this government’s continued attempt to blame the victim by suggesting he or she had brought it upon themselves through their conduct or the provocative carrying of iPods, computers and other such nonsense,” he was quoted as saying.

The remarks came days after a stinging rebuke from Indian high commissioner Sujatha Singh, who last week told Governor-General Quentin Bryce that Victoria was “in denial” over the problem.

Responding to Baillieu’s comment, Premier Brumby’s spokeswoman Fiona Macrae said, “Baillieu’s deceptive treatment of this issue makes things worse not better”.

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