updated 9/16/2009 9:04:54 PM ET 2009-09-17T01:04:54

An Australian man has been arrested on charges of raping his daughter for 30 years and fathering four children with her, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The exclusive report by the Herald Sun newspaper said the man began raping his daughter in the 1970s when she was 11 years old, threatening her with violence against her mother. He was arrested in February after the woman approached police, the report said.

Victoria state police would not immediately confirm the newspaper's details, saying a court suppression order was in place.

Rape denied
The Herald Sun said the man was charged with more than 80 offenses. It said he has denied raping his daughter but was charged after tests showed he was the father of his daughter's children.

Victorian Community Services Minister Lisa Neville says she will make it a priority to investigate the claims, which she had not known of before the newspaper article.

"They are only allegations and are before the courts at the moment and we need to be very careful about how much detail we go into," Neville told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "I don't know what, or if, (there has been) any involvement of the police, the department or other agencies ... over the past 30 years. This will be a priority to look into."

The man will appear in court in November.

The man's wife, who lived in the same home with her husband, daughter and grandchildren, told the newspaper that she was unaware of the abuse.

All four children were born with health problems and one of them has died, the report said.

Compared to Austrian case
The daughter first told police about the alleged abuse in 2005, but no charges were laid as she said she feared for her safety and would not cooperate with police, the report said.

The newspaper compared the case to that of Austria's notorious Josef Fritzl, the man who was convicted earlier this year of imprisoning and repeatedly raping his daughter for 24 years, fathering seven children with her.

The case was revealed as an ombudsman report found that Victoria state child protection workers had failed to carry out police checks, and had placed three children in the care of convicted sex offenders.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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