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"Misguided redneck nonsense" spoiling Ipswich, says minister

QUICK RESPONSE: Multicultural Affairs Minister Glen Elmes met with Raj Sharma after a racist attack on the businessman and his family.
QUICK RESPONSE: Multicultural Affairs Minister Glen Elmes met with Raj Sharma after a racist attack on the businessman and his family. David Nielsen

QUEENSLAND'S Multicultural Affairs Minister Glen Elmes has hit out at the alleged perpetrators of a racist attack in Ipswich, saying they are a minority of ignorant rednecks.

Mr Elmes met with India Mehfil restaurant owner Raj Sharma yesterday, following Tuesday's attack, in which several young people allegedly racially abused and then spat on members of Mr Sharma's family.

National news cameras rolled as an angry Mr Sharma vented some of his frustration on the visiting Minister, as well as Member for Ipswich Ian Berry, who also came to hear more about the problem.

"I am sick of this - my staff are sick of this," Mr Sharma told Mr Elmes.

"I have a restaurant in Brisbane and this does not happen there.

"None of us want to tolerate this any longer; you need to show stronger leadership."

The appalling racism - which followed a violent attack on two of Mr Sharma's staff only a few weeks earlier - may cast a shadow over the city, however the restaurant owner emphasised the fact that the vast majority of people supported him.

Mr Sharma said he'd received an outpouring of encouragement from the Ipswich community since the Queensland Times reported on the attack. In addition to the two State Government representatives, Mr Sharma said he'd received calls from Mayor Paul Pisasale.

Despite the support, Mr Sharma said he and his family could not tolerate further abuse.

"I don't want to leave Ipswich, because the community has been good to me. I ask the people of Ipswich not to abandon us - we are only here because of you," he said.

Mr Elmes said he and Mr Berry would hold discussions with police over the possibility of a greater presence in d'Arcy Doyle Place and other parts of the CBD.

"More importantly, we have got to continue to deliver the message that this behaviour cannot be tolerated," Mr Elmes said.

"This is not something that only happens in Ipswich. It happens in towns and cities everywhere and involves just a small minority of people.

"Queensland has 221 different cultures, 220 languages are spoken and we have 100 religious or belief systems - that's a fact."

He said 20% of Queenslanders were born overseas, so multiculturalism was here to stay.

"It enriches our society and I believe 99% of people get the message. It's that one in 100 people - or maybe even less - who take that misguided redneck nonsense approach."

Topics:  editors picks glen elmes mehfil indian restaurant raj sharma



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