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Recent incidents damaged Aus image in India: Victorian Premier

September 16, 2009 10:50 IST
In the wake of a racial attack against three Indians in Melbourne, Victorian Premier John Brumby on Wednesday said any violence was "unacceptable" and admitted that the recent incidents have damaged Australia's image in India.

"Some of the events of the past few months have damaged our brand and the Australian brand in India and I can only repeat that overall we remain one of the safest places in the world," he said.

Brumby, who will visit India next week, said he would not comment on the latest incident in which three Indians were brutally attacked by a group of Australians, but "that any violence, racially motivated or not, was unacceptable."

"If you look at Victoria as a whole we remain the safest state in Australia in terms of our crime rate," he said. "Any violence which does occur and any violence which is racially motivated is completely unacceptable...and I'll keep repeating this message as long as I have to get the message out there," he was quoted as saying by local media.

His comments came four days after three Indians were brutally attacked by a group of Australians at a bar in Melbourne on Saturday. The Premier said he would meet with key Indian officials during his visit and discuss the attacks.

Around 30 Indian students were attacked by Australians in various cities in a span of three months -- June to August. During his India visit, the Premier will also meet students to encourage them to continue to come to Victoria.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Police denied any deliberate attempt to downplay the assault after local media accused it of failing to release details of the attack.

Acting Senior Sergeant Glenn Parker, who was one of the officers at the scene, said police acted swiftly, arresting four men and taking statements from the victims.

He said there was no attempt on the part of police to play down the incident. "It wasn't raised as an issue at that time, there has been no necessary delay on the part of Victorian Police.

"As I say it has been from the word go, it has been an investigation, I guess it has just attracted the attention of the media in the last day or two," he said.

He said there has been no attempt by police to minimise publicity about the incident, which has been making headlines in India. "There's certainly no act to suppress what has taken place at all. Racist violence is unusual in Epping. I've been out here for some years now and I can't recall another occasion where there has been a racist-type assault of this nature," he said.

Natasha Chaku in Melbourne
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