Foreign doctors shun Australia over Haneef

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Sydney, Nov 4 (UNI) Overseas trained doctors (OTDs) are increasingly shunning Australia following the controversy surrounding 'wrongful' detention and visa cancellation of Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef by the Australian authorities.

This view has been put forward by the Overseas and Australian Medical Graduates Association which claims that a drop of about 90 per cent has been noticed in the OTDs applications for temporary work visas.

''This spells disaster for an already over stretched and under-resourced medical work force - particularly for rural and regional areas where many of these doctors are posted,'' OAMGA president Dr Nagamma Prakash has been quoted by the Australian media as saying today.

Earlier, Sydney-based United Indian Associations (UIA) and the Overseas and Australian Medical Graduates Association (OAMGA), had issued a joint statement blaming Dr Haneef fiasco for the massive drop in the number of doctors applying for temporary visas to work in Australia.

The dire drop is likely to exacerbate the existing health crisis as Australian hospitals are reported to be understaffed and under-budgeted.

The above-named 27-year-old Indian doctor from Bangalore was arrested by the Australian Federal Police(AFP) earlier from Brisbane airport before boarding a flight to India as a suspect in the failed UK bombings in which two of his cousins were alleged to be involved.

The furor over Dr Haneef's detention, and the way his temporary work visa was cancelled, is refusing to go away. The controversy is considered a major headache for the Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews and his Liberal government colleagues in the run up to the November end elections.

Dr Haneef episode has also led to a polarisation in the Indian expatriate community against ruling Liberal party.

Even though the Opposition Labor party led by Kevin Andrews had extended full support to the government over Dr Haneef, John Howard government is being held responsible for the humiliation of the Indian doctor.

The usually complacent UIA has also upped the ante over the treatment of Dr Haneef as there were reports of a backlash against the foreign doctors immediately after the arrest of the Indian doctor in Brisbane.

UIA and OAMGA would urge the Federal Government to come out with statements of apology to the Indian Community in general and Indian Doctors in particular in print and electronic media without any further delay to ensure that there will not be a snowballing effect of the community backlash on the Indian Community, the UIA-OMAGA joint statement read.

UNI

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