No apology over dig at Aussie soldiers

MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 13:21 23/04/2012
Jock Anderson
JOCK ANDERSON: 'I've got nothing to apologise for.'

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A New Zealand journalist who called Australian World War I soldiers "bludgers", "scavengers" and "thieves" says he has "nothing to apologise for" despite the backlash his comments have received.

Jock Anderson made the comments on Radio New Zealand's The Panel last week.

"The Aussies have been reluctant soldiers at the best of times. They've been essentially lazy, bludgers, some of them, and excellent black marketeers, scavengers, poachers and thieves," he said on the radio show.

"Occasionally they've actually been quite good soldiers, but there is no way, in my opinion, that they can hold a candle to the Kiwis."

Anderson's comments have made headlines overseas, with RSL Queensland chairman Terry Meehan telling local media they were "disappointing".

However, the National Business Review chief reporter has said he wouldn't apologise.

"I've got nothing to apologise for," he said, adding that he would not comment further.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he found the comments "offensive".

Key said the comments were inappropriate as both countries prepared to celebrate the Anzac spirit.

Meehan said Anderson's remarks were insulting to the thousands of young soldiers who fought and lost their lives and were particularly harsh coming from a Kiwi.

"The use of the term 'bludgers' I find outrageous," he told The Sunday Mail.

"They have been our allies essentially since World War I. I have never heard Australians talk about New Zealanders in such a way," Meehan said.

"Gallipoli was where the Anzac legend started - and it's continued right through history."

Anderson was on the panel with freelance journalist Josie McNaught discussing a book by historian Graham Wilson, who writes about myths surrounding Gallipoli.

Jim Mora, who hosts the show, said one of the myths was that Australian bushmen "instantly transformed" into a fable fighter. But others historians have disputed that, saying the Australian soldiers were not as good as their New Zealand and British counterparts until 1917, Mora said on the show.

In response to Mora's comments, McNaught said she was "so sick of hearing that ridiculous cliche" that was "breathlessly repeated about the forging of the identity".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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