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Australian nurseries ban Santa

Melbourne, Nov. 28 (Reuters): Several Australian kindergartens have banned Santa Claus this Christmas for fear that he may offend minority groups, the Herald-Sun newspaper said today.

One of the kindergartens planned to replace him with a clown and another said it would have an end-of-year party instead of a Christmas party, the Melbourne tabloid said.

At another, Santa Claus would be asked to be selective about which kids he paid attention to.

“There is a Muslim family in one of the groups and we didn’t want to offend them,” a worker at the kindergarten was quoted as saying.

The Santa ban became a political campaigning issue ahead of a weekend ballot in Australia's second most populous state, Victoria.

Opposition Liberal leader Robert Doyle attacked Victoria's Labor premier, Steve Bracks, over the boycott, saying it was political correctness gone mad, the newspaper said.

“Most little kids actually like Santa and I haven’t noticed him being politically incorrect or damaging to the youthful psyche,” Doyle said.

The state government shrugged off the controversy.

“If Robert Doyle is trying to link this with the Bracks government, then he's off with the elves,” said a spokeswoman.

Australia’s defence force began trials today of radar and sensor technology designed to detect landmines more accurately and quickly.

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