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Updated: February 23, 2010 12:51 IST

Melbourne not safe for Indians: Australian opposition leader

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In this file photo Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott is seen in Sydney. Abbott has said streets of Melbourne were not safe for Indians and the Government should spend money on policing and preventing racial attacks.
AP In this file photo Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott is seen in Sydney. Abbott has said streets of Melbourne were not safe for Indians and the Government should spend money on policing and preventing racial attacks.

The streets of Melbourne were not safe for Indians and the Government should spend money on policing and preventing racial attacks to improve relationship, Australia’s opposition leader Tony Abbott said on Tuesday.

The remarks came in the wake of the Government’s move to arrange accommodation for a team of Indian journalists touring Down Under.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is spending A$250,000 on flights and five-star accommodation for the journalists in a bid to clear up a diplomatic row over a series of attacks on Indians, the AAP reported quoting Herald Sun.

During their visit, the team of 25 reporters will tour the Melbourne Cricket Ground and see the concerts of A.R. Rahman scheduled to be held in Sydney and Melbourne.

Mr. Abbott said the money would be better spent preventing the bashing which was the basic “PR problem” between India and Australia.

“I think it would be much better spending the money on better policing of our streets because that’s the basic problem,” Mr. Abbott told Fairfax Radio Network.

“Our streets aren’t safe, particularly the streets of Melbourne, which appear to have been pretty seriously under-policed.

“If you didn’t have these racially motivated bashings in unsafe streets we wouldn’t have the PR problem, so let’s go to the heart of the matter.”

According to the DFAT, about $10,000 would be spent on each of the visiting reporters.

Spokesman of the Federation of Indian Students in Australia Gautum Gupta said that the visits were “just marketing junkets paid for by the taxpayer”, tightly scheduled and designed to gloss over problems.

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