Melbourne: Concerned over its falling reputation in the wake of a spate of attacks on Indian students, Australia today acknowledged that there has been a "negative shift" in its ties with India.
Dennis Richardson, the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), said the relationship between Australia and India has been damaged by the attacks on Indian nationals in recent months, according to reports.
"There has been a shift and that shift has been negative," he told a Senate hearing. "There has been damage to our reputation and standing."
Richardson said his Department was trying to counter that by bringing Indian "opinion leaders" to Australia to gauge the atmosphere of the country.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith had said that "we needed to treat the relationship like a Test match and work with diligence, dedication, application and perseverance day in and day out to extend the partnership."
The report said the crisis was being dealt with at the highest levels of government, as the inquiry hearing Richardson and National Security Adviser Duncan Lewis had met Helen Silver from the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet.
But that was only once and meetings had since become telephone hook-ups, Richardson said.