YESTERDAY Paul Bleakley, journalist with Australian Times, questioned a ruling by a UK court that found a woman, Petra Mills, guilty of racially aggravated public disorder after calling her NZ-born neighbour a “stupid fat Australian”.
In his open letter to the Rt Hon. Christopher Grayling MP, Paul asked whether Australians should be insulted by a ruling that holds this descriptor of nationality to be a racial slur.
The New Zealand Herald quickly picked up on the story, highlighting the victim’s distress in being called an Australian when Ms Mills knew she was a New Zealander.
The court held that it was a term of racial abuse because it had been used in hostility, and therefore was “racially aggravated”.
The New Zealand Herald quoted Mr Bleakley’s letter:
“At the least, it is merely a descriptive term. At the best, it is the greatest compliment Ms Mills could have given to her Kiwi neighbour, even though that was not her intention.”
New Zealand media then sought Mr Bleakley’s opinion in a radio interview.
Here is the audio from this interview:
The response received from Australians, New Zealanders and English on this issue has prompted Paul to further examine the nature of trans-Tasman rivalry, and asks is it still just friendly banter between our two nations or is there something more serious going on?
See: The trans-Tasman rivalry: Friendly banter or all-out war?