In the wake of a spate of racial attacks against Indians in Australia, the Victorian Government has appointed a former football player as the nation’s first “respect minister” to tackle problems related to growing racism and alcohol-fuelled violence in the state.

Victorian Premier John Brumby announced that Justin Madden would be the minister for the “respect agenda” as part of his election year cabinet reshuffle, The Australian newspaper reported.

Brumby said Madden would be one part of the government’s response in dealing with the issues surrounding Indian students, along with the educational and law and order approaches. He said the new minister would be an additional voice in the community promoting diversity and racial tolerance.

The appointment comes in the wake of nearly 100 cases of attacks on Indians, mostly students, being reported in Australia in 2009 as against 17 incidents of assaults in 2008.

Majority of the Indians students were subjected to racial attacks in Melbourne, capital of the state of Victoria.

Madden, who already has the planning portfolio, will co-ordinate the “whole of government approach” to social problems that have gripped Melbourne, including recent violence against Indians and the increase in assaults.

Meanwhile, the opposition called the new appointment as political correctness gone mad and said it would not make Victoria a safer place.

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