A transtasman war of words has broken out, days before Aussies and Kiwis mark Anzac Day, after a New Zealand journalist labelled Australian soldiers lazy bludgers and thieves in a radio broadcast.

Queensland Returned and Services League chairman Terry Meehan told Australian media he was outraged by the comments made by National Business Review journalist Jock Anderson and freelance journalist Josie McNaught on Radio NZ last week.

The pair were part of a panel discussing a book by former Australian army officer and Department of Veterans Affairs historian Graham Wilson on Thursday. The book, Bully Beef and Balderdash, sets out to debunk Gallipoli myths.

During the radio discussion, Anderson said, "Australian soldiers have been reluctant at the best of times," before adding, "They've been essentially lazy bludgers, some of them, and excellent black marketeers, scavengers, poachers and thieves."


He conceded that Australians had had their moments on the battlefield "but there is no way they can hold a candle, in my opinion, to the Kiwis".

Mr Meehan told the Sunday Mail the comments were disappointing and insulting. "The use of the term 'bludgers' I find outrageous."

He said he had never heard Australians talk that way about New Zealanders.

Anderson yesterday said he stood behind his comments.

He said that down through the generations, Australians had shown themselves to be bad sports with thin skin.