Australia fires back over Graham Norton comments on Eurovision

Academic Jess Carniel has defended the country's participation

Eurovision, Australia, Graham Norton, BBC, Jess Carniel, SBS,

Graham Norton at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest | Image: Alain Douit (EBU)

An Australian writer and academic has hit back at comments from Graham Norton over its Eurovision participation.

The Cork native, who runs commentary on the event for the BBC, said it is "kind of stupid" that the country is in the competition.

He told Britain's The Sun newspaper: "I just do not understand why they are in the Eurovision Song Contest".

"I know some countries aren't technically in Europe but, come on - Australia is on the other side of world".

"Last year they said it was a one-off as it was a celebratory anniversary and you think, 'OK', but they are back again".

"I've got nothing against Australia. I just think it is kind of stupid", he told the paper.

Australian writer and academic Jess Carniel has responded to the criticism.

"Yes, Graham Norton, we do know that we are on the other side of the world - but that doesn't mean that we can't or shouldn't participate in Eurovision," she writes on the SBS website.

"We already have a strong cultural connection back to Europe, forged through the problematic of colonisation, migration, and globalisation".

Australia is represented this year by singer Dami Im | Image: Peter Brew-Bevan

"Norton’s comments seem to exemplify the British exceptionalism that colours UK relations with the rest of continental Europe".

"Israel, Turkey, and Azerbaijan are a handful of examples where the boundaries of 'Europe' have been blurred. One could even argue that Russia, as geographically Asiatic - and ideologically less aligned with many of the dominant Eurovision states than Australia - is not really a part of it either".

"Eurovision has the potential to become the Olympics or the World Cup of song in the truest, global sense".

"We spent years lamenting the tyranny of distance until we accepted our geographical place in Asia, and started to leverage it geopolitically".

"Just as Eurovision offered Europe a way of uniting culturally in the dawn of the age of broadcast television, Asiavision will offer our region an opportunity for cultural connection, which could in turn translate into something truly global", she added.

A new song contest for the Asia-Pacific region, in the Eurovsion format, is set to be launched in 2017. Australia is slated to be the first host for the event.