CANBERRA, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Opposition Leader has backed calls for the creation of a national database of hate crimes following the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Bill Shorten, leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), told Fairfax Media that the proposal makes perfect sense, saying that hate crimes were often a stepping stone to attacks like that which rocked New Zealand on Friday.
"It needs to be accessible and we would need a common definition of hate crime. We know these people want to find loopholes so they can escape scrutiny so we have to make sure it works," he said.
Friday's terror attacks have so far left 50 people killed and 50 others injured. The suspected gunman, 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, was charged with murder.
The hate crime database was first proposed by Nick Kaldas, a former deputy commissioner of New South Wales (NSW) police.
"No government agency in Australia is capturing, let alone analysing data across the country, statistically, on hate crimes," he wrote in a column appearing in Fairfax newspapers on Sunday.
"Most police forces simply do not collect or differentiate this type of offence, they do not identify it as a unique offence. An assault is an assault.
"Nazi graffiti on a synagogue or racist comments on a mosque wound communities deeply and, if allowed to go unchecked, can be the first steps someone takes towards acts like the NZ attacks."
According to Kaldas, none of Australia's eight police forces keeps track of hate crimes.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government "will do whatever is necessary to keep Australians safe by acting on the expert advice we receive."