Aussie envoy admits to dent in country's image

New law soon to check integrity of students

 
Addressing a press conference after presenting his credentials to President Pratibha Patil, new High Commissioner Peter Varghese remarked that he shared Victoria state premier John Brumby’s feeling that the attacks have damaged the Australian brand in India. “Practical and effective steps are being undertaken so that these incidents don’t happen again. I am not here for damage control, I have a positive agenda,” said Varghese, 53, born in Kerala.

Asked about the continued attacks, he said: “We are upgrading law and enforcement, increasing police resources and taking measures to strengthen the visa programme so that genuine students are not put in trouble”.

Uranium sale

Asked about uranium sales to India, he said Australia would continue with its policy of not selling uranium to non-NPT [Nuclear non-proliferation treaty] countries. As for supporting NSG (Nuclear Suppliers’ Group) waiver to India on uranium sale, he said his country went by the grouping’s consensus. 

Aske why Australia supported China in blocking Asian Development Bank assistance to Arunachal Pradesh last week, Varghese said Canberra only supported the consensus. “It was not an anti-India or pro-China decision. We fully support Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India”.

“Over 2 lakh people of Indian origin have made Australia their home. They live peacefully and harmoniously with migrant communities from different parts of the world,” he said.

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