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AUSTRALIA has delivered a blunt message to India that it is selling education, not visas, even as the Rudd government deploys its most senior ministers to patch up relations damaged over a series of Indian student assaults.

Trade Minister Simon Crean, whose visit to India this week overlaps that of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, outlined to the Confederation of Indian Industry yesterday federal government measures to crack down on shonky education and training providers in Australia.

But he said the crackdown could be successful only if similar action were taken in India to close down shonky education and immigration agents running scams to secure permanent Australian residency through student visas.

“Let’s be clear, we are offering a quality education in a safe environment,” Mr Crean said yesterday. “The quality of our education is what we are promoting, not the visa attached to it.

“For this to succeed, we also need the co-operation of the Indian government. The fact that politicians in both countries have been forced to focus on the issue improves the odds of coming up with a better system.”

Ms Gillard is understood to have delivered a similar message during meetings with Indian Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal and, late on Tuesday night, with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, where greater engagement between the two countries on defence, energy and climate change were also discussed.

Mr Crean denied Australia’s international education industry needed to be remarketed in India, despite the fact it is widely seen — and in some areas promoted — as a pathway to permanent residency.

But he conceded better co-operation between Australian government agencies was also needed to help stem student visa abuses.

What the student issue has done is shed a light on the importance of interaction between Austrade, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and those that market our services in the Department of Education, Employment and Work Relations in the protection of our brand,” he said yesterday.

In just eight days, India will have hosted three of Australia’s most senior politicians, Mr Crean, Ms Gillard and Wayne Swan.

By the end of the year, a total of eight Australian ministers will have graced Indian soil.

The ministerial offensive is aimed at patching bilateral relations, damaged by a recent series of attacks on Indian students in Australia, as well as building trade relations with the emerging Asian superpower.

Mr Crean, who is in India for a two-day meeting of G20 trade ministers ahead of the next Doha round of WTO talks in Pittsburgh later this month, said Australia’s trade relationship with India had historically been “underdone”.

The ministerial visits — which will culminate in a tour by Kevin Rudd later this year — were designed to correct that.

“We understand the fundamental importance of India to our future, just as we do China and the rest of Asia. This is going to be the fastest-growing region in the world for the next couple of decades, it is the place to be,” he said. “Australia fortunately positioned itself for that a couple of decades ago but we have to renew the effort.

“Obviously, if there is a hiccup in the relationship, as there has been here over student safety, of course we have to address it. Visits here are an important part of that.”

Canberra hopes that a successful culmination of the Doha talks — aimed at reducing international trade barriers — will help accelerate free trade agreement negotiations between Australia and India, still at the feasibility stage.

It was also concentrating on building trade ties in infrastructure and energy security areas, with particular focus on investments in gas and coal.

Mr Crean denied that Australia’s refusal to sell uranium to India — a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — would hurt the progress of the talks, despite Mr Singh again raising the issue during his meeting with Ms Gillard.

Source  :  The Australian

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In his first interview since he miraculously survived almost two weeks lost amid freezing temperatures in Sydney’s Blue Mountains, the 19-year-old from north London, who was found by bushwalkers last Wednesday, also denied his story was a hoax.

“I was thinking I might die on that mountain,” he told the 60 Minutes current affairs television program in Australia in an interview for which he was paid an estimated $200,000 (£100,000).

“I had actually written some goodbye notes and things to my family saying, my last walk, saying sorry, explaining how I’d got lost and different things like that.

“I’m not a particularly religious person but I started thinking about God and I was praying and saying, ‘Surely you can move a helicopter an inch and find me,’ and ‘Why won’t you just help me?’”

Mr Neale returned to the location of his near-fatal bushwalk with the television crew after being released from hospital in Katoomba on Friday.

He posed for photos at the Narrow Neck Plateau near Katoomba where he had been discovered last Wednesday by bushwalkers, and was then flown over the Blue Mountains by helicopter.

He said he had lost the notepad with his goodbye letters, and his digital camera, while trying to get out of the dense bushland.

His incredible tale of survival – where he endured 12 nights in freezing temperatures, eating kangaroo berries and geebung weed, and drinking from local streams – has attracted many sceptics questioning the veracity of his story.

However Mr Neale remains adamant that he became lost after getting disorientated by the sun, and dismissed talk his disappearance was a hoax or a stunt to make money.

“I know what happened, and I know the people who were out searching for me,” he said in the interview, which was set to air in Australia on Sunday night and will be broadcast in the UK on Sky.

“They know that it happened and that’s good enough for me. People can say what they want because I’m not lying. It’s the truth.”

Mr Neale and his father Richard Cass hosted drinks in Katoomba on Friday night for some of the scores of volunteers who searched the rugged bushland looking for the lost backpacker.

Mr Cass, who had flown to Australia from the family home in London to help search for his son, returned to England on Saturday.

Mr Neale will now travel by train to Perth to stay with relatives as he cannot fly for eight weeks due to air bubbles on his lungs.

Source  :  www.timesonline.co.uk

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Days after a public rant aimed at Tracy Grimshaw, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has fired a second volley branding the TV presenter “sad”ramsay and “bitter” for defending herself.

Ramsay denied calling the Nine Network veteran a lesbian at a weekend appearance at Melbourne’s Good Food and Wine Show during which he also allegedly compared her to a pig, using an offensive photo as a prop.

Ramsay on Tuesday said he was “deeply mortified” that his intended joke had been blown out of proportion – and that was before Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the chef’s comments reflected a “new form of low life”.

Mr Rudd’s deputy Julia Gillard and Health Minister Nicola Roxon joined the fray, saying Ramsay should confine himself to the kitchen and stop abusing women.

But there was no remorse from the TV chef after Grimshaw used her A Current Affair program on Monday to take him to task over his food show rant.

Ramsay on Tuesday said he’d never used the word “lesbian” to describe Grimshaw, and said she herself was guilty of a “disgusting” attack on his wife Tana, who’s due in Australia in two weeks.

“She’s obviously doing it for the ratings,” he said of Grimshaw, speaking to reporters after a run along Melbourne’s Yarra River.

On Monday, Grimshaw branded Ramsay a bully and an “arrogant narcissist”. She said he’d made “uninformed insinuations” at the food show about her sexuality, and she told her viewers she was not gay.

Grimshaw said that before a recent interview for her program, Ramsay had insisted she refrain from asking about his private life following allegations of a long-running extra-marital affair.

“We all know why,” she said.

She added: “… I’m not surprised by any of this. We’ve all seen how Gordon Ramsay treats his wife – and he supposedly loves her. We’re all just fodder to him.”

Asked if he could understand how Grimshaw felt, Ramsay told reporters: “I never once said the word lesbian, I was having a tongue-in-cheek joke – it was not at her expense.

“For me on a personal front, to see how sad and how bitter for someone to come out like that, for a renowned pro to come out and stoop that low, is disgusting.”

He said tapes of the alleged incident were being scrutinised by his lawyers.

Mr Rudd was firmly in Grimshaw’s corner on Tuesday, congratulating her for giving Ramsay a “left uppercut” in her reply.

“I think I can describe his remarks as reflecting a new form of low life,” he told the Fairfax Radio Network.

“I just drew breath when I saw the sort of stuff which was said about her. I just think that’s off and offensive.”

Earlier, Ms Gillard said the celebrity chef should stay in the kitchen.

“I think perhaps what he should do is confine himself to the kitchen and make nice things for people to eat rather than make public comments about others,” she said.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon said there was no need for “women to be abused in our community at any level”.

Grimshaw said she had been overwhelmed by the avalanche of support she’d received.

The fallout from Ramsay’s rant has gone global, spreading to his homeland Britain and to the US and New Zealand.

Britain’s The Mirror sent up Ramsay in a report headlined: “Good thing Gordon Ramsay is such a sex god.”

“Gordon is such a handsome devil, a veritable sex god come to Earth to live among men, you can understand why he might feel that mere mortals are unworthy of his presence,” the report said.

The Mail Online carried a report about the outburst and the angry reaction it had generated among audience members and women’s groups.

US celebrity watcher Perez Hilton said Ramsay had gone too far with his “sexist, homophobic remarks”.

Source www.ninemsn.com.au

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