AUSTRALIANS were depicted as a race of heartless bullies in Britain’s leading newspaper overnight.
In a commentary headlined “Australia’s sunny face has turned into a nasty scowl” Beverley Hadgraft suggests Australians have lost their sense of humour and become a nation of umbrage takers.
In an article in The Times Ms Hadgraft blames the impact of radio shock jocks for lowering the tone.
Her article follows rage in the UK over the tragic death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha.
Ms Saldanha, a mother of two, took her own life just days after connecting a phone call from Sydney DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian to a ward nurse at London’s King Edward VII hospital, charged with caring for the Duchess of Cambridge.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is investigating whether 2Day FM breached its licence by broadcasting the hoax call.
Ms Hadgraft recalled a gentler Australia of 1984 depicted in an Australia tourism ad starring Paul Hogan.
“Every Aussie loves that ad and still complains that we’ve not found a campaign to match it, ” she said.
“Tourists loved it too. ‘I’ve never met an Australian I didn’t like,’ they’d say. We were the land of the laid-back larrikin with a nice dry sense of humour and a friendly welcome. I didn’t know an Australian who could ignore a guy with an open map and a confused expression on his face.
“Now we’re in danger of losing that sunny image. The combination of FM radio shock jocks and the endless abuse that passes for parliamentary debate these days makes us look more like a nation of furious bullies.
“And while 2Day FM calls in the spin doctors and goes into damage control mode, who will control the damage being done to Brand Australia?
“How delighted the foreign press must be at the column inches they’ve filled with the general nastiness of our culture. Listeners of 2Day FM wake up to Kyle Sandilands. He’s the one who forced a girl to confess to her mother, on air, that she was raped aged 12.
“If Sydneysiders don’t want Sandilands’ aggression and put-downs they can start the day with Alan Jones on 2GB instead. Jones is the shock jock who calls our Prime Minister Ju-liar to her face and publicly scolded her for being ten minutes late for an interview with him, refusing to accept her explanation that she was busy. ‘We’re all busy,’ he postured. Quite. Except that running a country is properly busy and spouting nonsense to 150,000 ageing listeners is not.
“Yes, I know we don’t have to listen to any of them but the problem is that hundreds of thousands do and that bullying is permeating our culture. If you don’t have to respect the PM or the privacy of a pregnant woman – well it’s open slather.”
Ms Hadgraft said she moved to Australia 20 years ago.
In those days the country was welcoming and non-judgmental, she wrote.