Appalling attacks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 February, 2004, 12:00am

In view of the leader headlined 'Australia must condemn restaurant attacks' (February 2), you should know that the day after the firebombings of Chinese restaurants in Perth, both the prime minister and the Western Australian attorney-general strongly condemned the attacks.

During an interview in Perth on February 2, Prime Minister John Howard said: 'Let me say that I am appalled at what occurred - any suggestion of attacks of a racial bias appals Australians. The Chinese people of this city are a very welcome part of the Perth and of the Western Australian community; they have made a wonderful contribution to the modern Western Australia and the modern Perth and any suggestion that this is in some way racially based adds a further dimension to what is obviously a crime. I do not want to say more than that because there are police investigations and it is never helpful for people in my position to say more than that in these circumstances.'

As the Post rightly pointed out in its leader, racially based harassment, violence and property damage have absolutely no place in Australia. As many people in Hong Kong already appreciate, Australia is a tolerant and inclusive nation built by people from many different backgrounds. It prides itself on its cultural diversity and harmony among over 100 different ethnic groups. Socially, migration has contributed to the emergence of Australia as one of the most cosmopolitan and dynamic societies in the world. It has meant the introduction of more than 100 languages into Australian life and has also resulted in the growth of community language schools, ethnic media, businesses, diverse religious and cultural activities and variety in foods, restaurants, fashion, art and architecture.

The actions of the minority extremists who committed the recent crimes in Perth are un-Australian, unacceptable and simply will not be tolerated. In condemning the attacks, Western Australian Attorney-General Jim McGinty stated that the courts have in the past shown a preparedness to treat this sort of criminal behaviour very seriously.

DAVID O'LEARY, Consul-General of Australia