Terming those involved in racist attacks in Australia, including against Indians, as “narrow-minded idiots”, Victorian Premier John Brumby today promised action against the offenders and assured Indian parents of their children’s safety here.
Under pressure to act against perpetrators of the attacks against Indians, Mr. Brumby said he will do everything possible to “repay the trust the parents have placed in his government.”
Writing in ‘The Age’, the Premier reiterated the importance of Indian community in forming the vital part of a multicultural Victorian society.
“There have been some disturbing incidents, and some of these incidents have had racist elements. Such racism begins and ends with a small number of bigoted, narrow-minded idiots.
“It is not part of our state, as evidenced by the thousands of Victorians who marched through city streets at the Harmony Walk last year,” Mr. Brumby wrote.
Mr. Brumby also candidly admitted that assaults on Indian students in Melbourne were of great concern to him.
His comments come in the backdrop of over 100 incidents of attacks against Indians being reported in Australia, most of them in the state of Victoria.
Assuring Indian parents of safety of their children studying in Victoria, Mr. Brumby said: “I take the trust placed in us by Indian parents seriously and I am determined to do everything possible to repay it.”
The Premier said: “I also understand those parents place their trust in the jurisdiction their child has chosen to live in to do all it can to look after the welfare of their children.”
Mr. Brumby said his government was working hard to bring down the crime rate. However, the rate of assaults was too high and action was being taken on them regardless of their motivation. “Any violence committed in our community is an attack on us all,” he said.
Mr. Brumby cited a recent survey conducted by Federation of Indian Assocaitions of Victoria (FIAV) that found that of 513 respondents, over 76 per cent Indian students were happy with their course and 72 per cent felt safe in the areas where they worked and studied. “An attack motivated by race or prejudice is particularly disgraceful. The federal and Victorian governments have been as one on this issue,” he said.
“The message from me, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith and Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese has been consistent and clear: racism will not be tolerated, violence will not be tolerated, and any incident will be thoroughly investigated.
He also said he has no apologies for calling for balanced media coverage because the reputation and fabric of the multicultural state is too precious to be damaged by “sensationalist reporting”.