Attacks damaged Australia's reputation among Indians: Smith

Attacks damaged Australia's reputation among Indians: Smith

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith addresses students at St. Stephen's College in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI Photo

"I acknowledge absolutely that this issue has caused considerable damage to Australia's reputation among Indian people. We have to work very hard to address that. We have to be open, transparent and upfront about that," visiting Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told reporters here.

He said some of the attacks are racists in nature or having racial overtones.

"We know that a number of these assaults are racists and have racial overtones. These are absolutely contemptible. We are doing a range of things in future to better portray modern Australia. We want to underline the strength of relationship between India and Australia," Smith said.

However, both the countries have agreed that the issue should not be allowed to affect the bilateral ties which has grown immensely in the last two years, he said.

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has been entrusted with the task of studying the issue in depth and ensure whether the government's response to the attacks has been apt, Smith said.

Giving details about the study entrusted to the AIC, Smith said the institute, which is a premier agency in criminal justice research, will study the issue from all aspects and examine the response of the Australian government.

"Our police authority in Australia does not keep statistics on the basis of nationality. It has been difficult to do an exhaustive statistical analysis of the assaults. The institute will do the study to get a better understanding of the issue," he said.

"We want to see whether the Institute of Criminology can give us a deeper and further understanding to make sure that we are responding in a every possible way and that we are doing everything that we can," Smith said.

The minister had a series of meeting in recent months with his Indian counterpart S M Krishna over the issue.

"I want to give the message that we have zero tolerance to any such attack. We want to bring the culprits to justice," he said.

Smith said there have been convictions in many cases while investigation is going on in 70 cases. "We want to ensure that any visitor to Australia experiences what the people of the country experience," he said.

Smith said several initiatives have been taken by his government to check such incidents."We abhor violence. We abhor these attacks".

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