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How Advance Australia Fair waltzed with Matilda and won

Australia Day looms. Across the country, ceremonies large and small will stand for the national anthem. Lots of golden soil, nature’s gifts and girting by sea. The national anthem is ubiquitous now at…

We could be celebrating an anthem with words most other English speakers don’t understand. Dan Peled/AAP

Australia Day looms. Across the country, ceremonies large and small will stand for the national anthem. Lots of golden soil, nature’s gifts and girting by sea. The national anthem is ubiquitous now at major ceremonies and top sporting events.

It seems we’ve been Advancing Australia Fair forever. But things that now seem a natural part of the landscape are sometimes remarkably recent. And we only initially got there with a bit of luck.

Writing recently for The Conversation, Susan Broomhall speculated that we could well have been speaking Dutch if things had turned out slightly differently.

In a similar way, we would be singing a different anthem now, if only a couple of things had changed in the past.

Tony Ward discusses Australia’s national anthem.

There was certainly confusion at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. When Shirley Strickland won gold in the 80 metres hurdles, the ceremony played two national anthems: Advance Australia Fair and God Save the Queen. Strickland remembered:

It took forever, but I loved every minute of it.

Before 1950, while God Save the Queen was the formal anthem, several other songs jostled as potential “national songs”. Foremost were Advance Australia Fair and Waltzing Matilda.

Advance Australia Fair was written in the mid 1870s by the Scots-born schoolteacher Peter Dodds McCormack. The four verses had a strong imperial connection, with several mentions of England and Britannia.

Waltzing Matilda had different origins. Its lyrics were written in 1895 by the poet, solicitor and soldier Banjo Paterson in the aftermath of the bitter shearers’ strike in Queensland.

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Those origins resonated in the later popularity of the songs among different groups. In the 1950s the ABC started the day with different tunes on its main radio networks. The higher brow National network, with a more Anglophile audience, started in most states with Advance Australia Fair. The Light network began each day with the strains of Waltzing Matilda.

For the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, God Save the Queen was undisputed as the Australian national anthem. But there was also a Games song – to the tune of Waltzing Matilda:

Polling

Almost 30 years later, and only 30 years ago, Australia’s official anthem was still God Save the Queen. And in the contest to replace it, Advance Australia Fair only just saluted. With a few different events a generation back, we could well now all be waiting til the billy boils and stuffing jumbucks into tuckerbags.

Advance Australia Fair became Australia’s anthem in April 1984. The change followed two decades of controversy.

Up until the mid 1960s, there was strong support for God Save the Queen. Even in 1965 an opinion poll had almost 60% in favour. That support crumbled in the next decade.

A national song poll in 1974 found less than one in five now supported the imperial anthem. Most popular in its stead was Advance Australia Fair, followed by Waltzing Matilda.

PreciousBytes

The Whitlam government adopted Advance Australia Fair as the national anthem. That decision was reversed by the subsequent Fraser government in 1976, which returned to God Save the Queen. But, and importantly for this story, the government also chose Waltzing Matilda as the song to be played at any medal ceremony at the forthcoming Montreal Olympics.

The next year, in May 1977, a plebiscite asked for voters’ opinions on the matter. Some 6.5 million voted, with Advance Australia Fair (43%) ahead of Waltzing Matilda (28%), and God Save the Queen third (19%). Despite those results, the government kept God Save the Queen as the national anthem, with Advance Australia Fair as the “national song”.

Advance

Opinions had ebbed and flowed before. In the late 1940s, even though most Australians considered themselves “British”, there was reasonable support for an Australian national anthem. God Save the Queen then regained support in the 1950s, with the conservative Menzies Government and the popularity of the new Queen, Elizabeth II.

The choice of an Australian song in 1977 could similarly have been altered by different recent events. In particular, if Australia had won a swag of gold medals at Montreal in 1976.

In a sporting low point, Australia didn’t win any gold in Montreal, so Waltzing Matilda was never played at the medals ceremony. But if Australia had won, say, ten golds: think of the impact of that soundtrack fuelling two weeks of national pride. The song’s popularity would have boosted considerably – and would doubtless have gained a much stronger vote in the plebiscite nine months later.

In 1984, seven years after the plebiscite, the incoming Hawke government formally made the move to Advance Australia Fair. The song was modified – the official version has two verses, and no mention of Britannia. And even now we don’t hear much of the second verse, which includes:

For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share.

Even with the new anthem in 1984, it was not played anywhere near as much as it is now. Back then, many people shared the laid-back attitude of South Melbourne resident, Peter Brown. When the Herald Sun asked for his opinion on the new anthem, the 21-year-old said:

I don’t like flag-waving songs. “Click go the Shears” would be just as good – at least sheep can identify with it.

After 30 years, we all get used to things. Many might now criticise Brown’s laconic attitude as “un-Australian”. And most people now think it strange that a song about a sheep rustler was a serious contender for the national anthem.

But things could have been different. We might well be now celebrating an anthem with words most other English speakers don’t understand.

And decrying any alternative with a strange word like “girt”.

Join the conversation

68 Comments sorted by

  1. Damien Westacott

    Programmer

    For my money it's just got to be 'I still call Australia home'.

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  2. Michelle Smith

    Research Fellow, Centre for Memory, Imagination and Invention at Deakin University

    Absolutely fascinating! I didn't know the official adoption of 'Advance Australia Fair' was so recent.

    I wouldn't mind swapping to Icehouse's 'Great Southern Land' at this point.

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  3. Craig Read

    logged in via Twitter

    God Save the Queen was the national anthem when I started primary school. I still remember our whole school singing it in the court yard.

    But I don't think Advance Australia Fair was ever sung at any school I attended. I never bothered learning the words to it and never will. Pretty sure I know most of the words to Waltzing Matilda though.

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    1. Des Stackpole

      Post hole Digger

      In reply to Craig Read

      we sang God Save the Queen every morning (or was it once a week?) at a little Primary school high in the Mountains of Bougainville in the Solomons in 1971-2, the same period PNG came out with its new flag. One day the flag they held up was the Oz flag, the next it was the black/red and bird of paradise. And they kept singing GSTQ!

      As an aside, and one not all that amusing, Advance Australia Fair can be sung to the tune of Gilligan's Island, the Brady Bunch and the Beverley Hillbillies

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  4. terry lockwood

    maths/media/music/drama teacher

    'Our land abounds in nature strips of beauty rich and rare.'
    I have yet to hear any complaints from states where these grassy bits of no man's land between houseblock and carriageway are called verges.
    I guess if nature strip was replaced with 'verges', the original meaning might be lost if misheard. Unless I have misheard the lyric in the first place. Possible.

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    1. Stephen H

      In a contemplative fashion...

      In reply to terry lockwood

      Terry, I'm sorry to have to break this to you but our land actually abounds in nature's gifts (of beauty rich and rare).

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  5. Doug Fraser

    policy analyst at UNSW

    "After 30 years, we all get used to things."

    No, not all of us. I still cringe visibly whenever I hear this appalling Victorian dirge played. If it's good enough for the South Africans to have a national anthem you can dance to, surely we ought to be able to manage it too. And that's even before I get to the appallingly platitudinous words.

    Someone may be able to set me straight on this, but my clear recollection is that after the 74 referendum, the Whitlam government made a decision to adopt Advance Australia Fair, but *without the words*. I wonder what became of that?

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  6. Anne Powles

    Retired Psychologist

    I voted for " Song of Australia". It used to be quite popular but is never heard now.

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  7. Iain Millar

    Unemployed at Centrelink

    'Song of Australia' which finished fourth in the 1977 plebiscite (but first in South Australia) arguably has a better tune than any of the others, though as with Advance Australia Fair you might revisit some of the lyrics:
    Well said Mark.
    It was Peter Dawson's favourite, "The finest national anthem ever written", but because AAF was sung in the more populous States it got up in the plebiscite.
    Revisiting the lyrics may happen again if we become a republic, what do you replace "To make this Commonwealth of ours" with?
    Anyway, I'm with Billy Connolly, lets have a jaunty anthem.
    This present archaic dirge stirs emotion only in politicians.

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  8. Graham Seal

    Professor of Folklore at Curtin University

    Thanks for the article. A couple of corrections:

    A B Paterson is with only one ‘t’.

    Paterson wrote the lyrics of ‘Waltzing Matilda’. The music was composed/re-composed by Christina Macpherson.

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    1. Stephen H

      In a contemplative fashion...

      In reply to Graham Seal

      I hear Christina herself has now done what every composer eventually resorts to - and decomposed.

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    2. Paul Prociv

      ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

      In reply to Tony Ward

      I recall reading, many years ago and I can't remember where, that the tune of Waltzing Matilda was pinched from an old French folk song. Any truth in that?

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    3. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Clinical Psychologist

      In reply to Tony Ward

      Mr Ward, as I wrote yesterday the correct origins of the music of what we call 'Waltzing Matilda', from the thoroughly researched "'the' Turners three volume, The History of British Military Bands, the first (Spellmount, 1994)".

      This based on the constant requirement for historical accuracy that has been extant since 1820 (and believe me in those dark and distant days the quality of historical research was frightening) by the body (under various titles over the years) that approved the usage of…

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    4. Paul Prociv

      ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

      In reply to Tony Ward

      Thanks, Tony. I hadn't thought of old Google, but checking out that Wikipedia link, "The original manuscript of "Waltzing Matilda", transcribed by Christina Macpherson c. 1895" contained therein is not to what I think of as the standard tune, but maybe that of the "Queensland version". This, of course, throws a spanner into the works, although your "Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea" does sound pretty close to what I think of as WM: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lcMt-c9rGw

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  9. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

    Clinical Psychologist

    At the time it was first performed in 1878 on St Andrews Day, it was designed/intended as a political unifying tool for the push for the creation of a Australian Commonwealth of the SEVEN Self Governing Colonies of which New Zealand one.

    Its dirge like sound was of then highly popular Doric form of 'culture' in Scotland.

    The music (not the lyrics) of Waltzing Matilda and Click Go the Shears were both revamped by the Army's Director of Music into anthem musical format for the 1956 Olympic Games…

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    1. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Just a quibble, MacKinlay, ( when did your family drop the capital K?) your use of apostrophes when using the word 'culture' in a Scottish context, your purpose?
      Is it indeed the case that culture and Scotland are subject to some doubt that requires the distinction that you employ?
      Perhaps you can reach deep in your cauldron of unending erudition to provide an explanation.
      It is well known that the change from MacLean to Maclean, for example, indicates a lessening of their own cultural heritage among some of the Scottish diaspora.
      Some might employ apostrophes, as in 'Mackinlay', to indicate just such a glaring cultural lapse.

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    2. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Clinical Psychologist

      In reply to James Hill

      Mr Hill in response to your somewhat odd message.

      The use of the surname without a capital letter in the fourth case, is the Scots way.

      The usage of the capital letter was to indicate the cadet branches of those Scots families who took up 'plantations' in Ulster.

      If you were of Lowland origin, in our family names case it was M'finlay. But, once to those kiltless persons such as we were kilted savages.

      When our eldest brother had the family tree done, our surname was from 1413 shown as…

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    3. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Gee, Mackinlay, even conquering those Doric types, and teaching them how to read and write has still not imbued them with culture.
      What's the use of a deep, unending cauldron of erudition then?

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    4. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Clinical Psychologist

      In reply to James Hill

      All you can do is inter-marry, and breed it out.

      My eldest son's wife asked her secretary recently that whilst she was in Vancouver (they in Victoria, Vancouver Island) to pick up from the tailor a new pair of dress trews to wear at a pre-Christmas formal. The secretary of Middle-Canada Ukrainian origin, came back, dropping them off saying "here's your TREVES" which is Doric for Trews. Those dammed East Coast Germans get everywhere.

      When my son was being fitted for them the sales lady put…

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    5. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Now there is something quite pathological about hating bagpipes.
      They were war instruments, warning opponents to scarper, before they encountered some angry Highlanders, whose reputation preceeded them, like their music, especially in the Thirty Years War.
      But where do breeks fit in to your etc,etc cauldron?
      Definitely Celtic?

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    6. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to James Hill

      How interesting James because I have a brother in law who changed the spelling of his name MacLean to Maclean because the latter looked better on his business card. No loyalty at all! And his aged mum was not happy.

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    7. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to James Hill

      How could anyone dislike bagpipes! Usually my father used his chanter to practise inside the house but for some special occasions he did need to do a dress rehearsal for the full pipe band thing. It was impressive.

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    8. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Clinical Psychologist

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      "dislike bagpipes" quite easy, there are thousands of true ethnic Scots within the Borders of Scotland who hate pipe music.

      When the 5,000 pipers marched down Union Street in Edinburgh a couple of years ago, there was a protest group of several thousand in opposition.

      Actually pipes are the first true musical instrument (blowing down a didgeridoo or banging on a pair of sticks just makes a rhythmic sound not music) to play in Australia, when Cook raised the National Flag one of his Royal Marines…

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    9. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Thank you very much for that, Kackinlay, and for the links. I will enjoy following them up.

      My father who died quite young many years ago, used to play on our new record player, some Northumberland chants and I still remember these lines;

      "and when their legs were smitten off
      they fought upon their stumps"

      Perhaps I will find the verse itself in your links. :)

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    10. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Clinical Psychologist

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      He fought upon his stumpes. Do a GOOGLE for Chevy Chace to tell you what its all about! Yours, Mackinlay

      Chevy Chace

      GOD prosper long our noble king,
      Our liffes and safetyes all;
      A woefull hunting once there did
      In Chevy-Chace befall.

      To drive the deere with hound and horne,
      Erle Percy took his way;
      The child may rue that is unborne
      The hunting of that day.

      The stout Erle of Northumberland
      A vow to God did make,
      His pleasure in the Scottish woods
      Three…

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    11. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      I remember as a child waiting at the far end of Prince's Street in Edinburgh, in winter, for a military pipe band to arrive.
      The cold, dense air seemed to carry the sound a long way to ears straining in anticipation, for it took quite a long time for the band to arrive.
      Imagine those in fear of meeting these warriors, ( who were mercenaries in the Thirty Years War, in particular) among their enemies, and the foreboding that the distant strain of those pipes would have induced.
      Something of a…

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    12. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to James Hill

      Recent reading has revealed to me that the root words in the Teutonic tongues for Law and War are of Celtic origin, the author of the work implying that in Continental Europe, the types for whom you carry such disdain, were ruled and guide by the Celts.
      Long may it remain the case that such are more to be pitied than reviled, lifted up rather than persecuted.

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    13. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Clinical Psychologist

      In reply to James Hill

      Whilst Cook would have been exposed to the Northumberland Small Pipes whilst in the North East colliery trade, in the Royal Navy along with the fiddle they were normal musical instruments on board all ships. The Royal Marines as I wrote actually had Pipers on strength, and whilst it well recorded that they used the Small Pipes for shipboard activities and entertainment, it is not clear whether they used the Northumberland Border Pipes for military duties ashore?

      Whatever, but, it would still be nice to see the Small Pipes used in Australia Day ceremonies.

      Whilst at work tonight, I got the use of one of my registered nurses IPod which has such music on it, she a English lass from Westmorland (sorry the PC title is now Cumbria) and has a interest. The music is quite pleasant and easy to listen too. Yours, Mackinlay/

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    14. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      They have bagpipes in Egypt, what about the olden days?
      Do they have a history of world travel?
      And the harp seems be a bit more sophisticated than the Ancient Greek lyre.

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    15. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Clinical Psychologist

      In reply to Stephen H

      "Stephen H" girt is still shown in the various technical publications on timber cutting and preparation. And in any competent English dictionary.

      The usage of girth in the constantly changing usage of English was originally a horse term for the strap that tightened around the chest of a horse to secure the saddle (riding or pack), and over the past 50-60 changed meaning.

      In my opinion when he used 'girt' he meant the Old English usage of the term (what we now call 'gird'), which was to arm, to prepare yourself for action etc. I have seen in music hall music sheets of that era the word used in songs such "Fight Boys, Fight, GIRT yourself with sword to fight the foe" (which was probably Top of the Pops in the State Empire in George Street, Melbourne, 1872!)

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    16. Stephen H

      In a contemplative fashion...

      In reply to Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Gordon, thank you for correcting my correction. I had not taken the time to perform a quick lookup.

      I do agree with your view of "girt" being related to what one does with one's loins.

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    17. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Clinical Psychologist

      In reply to Stephen H

      Oddly enough 'Stephen H' in the car taking me to work tonight, I was watching on the itsy bitsy TV screen the British TV program Bargain Hunt. The introducer showing a antique tool that was a tree 'Girt' measure, which used in conjunction with another tool to measure the height of a tree and measurements of the pair would give you the viable amount of timber you could recover from the tree.

      He then stating that you could get confused with the title as it was the Old English for getting ready…

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    18. Stephen H

      In a contemplative fashion...

      In reply to Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Gordon, ask WS Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan about copyright (actually, don't - they're not talking much nowadays). Their music was regularly performed without recompense in that most sternly IP-protective of today's nations, the US. They even went there in 1879 to secure the copyright for Pirates of Penzance, but were unable to protect it.

      Of course in the rest of the world the D'oyly Carte Opera Company held all rights to G&S for an ungodly period of the 20th century and stifled any chance for originality in performances.

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  10. Mark O'Connor

    Author

    "And even now we don’t hear much of the second verse, which includes:
    For those who’ve come across the seas/ We’ve boundless plains to share."
    --probably because it's so obviously untrue. Australia's agricultural frontier closed in the 1890s. Immigrants since then, even when they came from farming backgrounds in Europe and elsewhere, have not in general found farms or even farm-work in Australia.
    Interesting that references to Britain were removed from the official text; yet this piece of out-dated pioneering ideology and/or cornucopian propaganda, envisaging endless growth and expansion, was retained by the Hawke government's committee.
    Like the displacement of Waltzing Matilda, this was a win for the rich -- not so much the rich land "squatters" as the rich economic "squatters" from the Big End of town, who see BAU and endless growth (to hell with the environment) as their right.
    Bring back Waltzing Matilda !

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  11. John Campbell

    farmer

    When I was very young and my parents took me to the theatre I refused to stand up for god save the king/queen (which used to be played in picture theatres back then).

    I said I will stand up for them when they stand up for me. I've seen no reason to ever change my viewpoint on this. I'm glad Australia gave up on Imperial honours and I suggest that all stupid labels used to divide and segregate people should be abolished. This includes those from academic institutions, getting a degree is fair enough, but a label I think is nothing short of an anachronism.

    It horrifies me on Australia day to see all the jingoism and nationalism pumped out. There must only be a hair breadth difference between these and some of the worst sorts of racism.

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    1. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to John Campbell

      John Campbell, the "Australia Day" ceremonies etc have been organised and run by committed multinational multiculturalists for years now.
      Inspired by the 1984 like big brother thinking that dominates their mindsets. So much like home...
      There's not much Australia left in Australia Day.

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  12. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    In my Australian primary school, Hammondville, late 1962, we sang the anthem, starting with "Australian sons let us rejoice".
    Was this misheard or was it changed to " Australians all let us rejoice" later?

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    1. Tony Ward

      Fellow in Historical Studies at University of Melbourne

      In reply to James Hill

      Your memory is quite right James. It was originally 'sons', and changed to 'all' when it became the national anthem in 1984 - when other changes were made as well.

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  13. Frank Moore

    Consultant

    For those who’ve come across the seas
    We’ve boundless plains to share.

    Would have to go down as the most ignorant - deliberately ignorant - lie - ever perpetrated by cringing politicians in the global history of committee based national anthems.

    I feel sickened - ill - whenever I'm forced to hear that dirge.

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  14. Pat Moore

    gardener

    1984, interesting year for AAF to be formalised bro?. Hard to modernise 'girt' the verb which lends the imposing, love-your-colonial-status rouser such an antiquated and humorous air. The poet was committed to a one syllable verb that burrows in the modern ear like an earwig. Adolescent girls used to be referred to as "giggling girties", though what they exactly girted, hard to tell...it sure wasn't their loins...perhaps it was their 'stays' that 'girt' them.....then there is the girth strap on…

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  15. Judith Norris

    Lecturer Educational Leadership at Australian Catholic University

    Just responding to the post which questions people's knowledge about the second verse of NAnthem. I suggest a walk though of any Australian Primary School -!on their nominated assembly morning- sweet voices singing such an inclusive song !

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    1. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Judith Norris

      Yep Judith, if you want to perpetuate a lie, myth or propaganda - the best place to start is Primary School.
      Hitler had the same approach.
      Same sweet voices I guess...

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  16. Giles Pickford
    Giles Pickford is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired, Wollongong

    I was driving back from Perth on the day of the plebiscite. I had stopped of at a petrol station on the way and asked the ten year old who was filling my tank "What song would you like to be the national anthem?" Without hesitation he said that he would prefer "Advance Australia Where".

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  17. Linda Curry

    Retired teacher

    When I started teaching in 1971 we began singing "God Bless Australia" at school assemblies instead of "God Save the Queen". It was proposed in 1961 as an Australian national anthem by Australian songwriter Jack O'Hagan who provided patriotic lyrics to the traditional tune of Waltzing Matilda. I have read since that it was released as a 45 by Ampol the petrol company in 1968. I voted for Waltzing Matilda in the plebescite thinking to use these words but looking at them now with a chuckle can see…

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  18. Stephen H

    In a contemplative fashion...

    I was too young to vote for it back then, but I continue to think we made a bad choice. We chose the politically correct "Yep, it sounds like them other anthems" tune and words rather than something that provided a young, vibrant and upbeat anthem that also contained an story (in joke) most of the world wouldn't understand.

    Cultural cringe lives on in our national anthem.

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  19. Pamela H.

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Many thanks to the various Labor governments that we're not still singing praises to England's queen. My favourite, and I believe most accurate song of Australia is The Seekers' We Are Australian: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD3SkTyXzcE

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  20. Iain Millar

    Unemployed at Centrelink

    Why not an anthem without lyrics? If it's good enough for Spain...
    Our anthem's lyrics are a grotesque parody, as are most around the world.
    Why not choose a decent tune, Verdi, Puccini and Rossini wrote a few.
    I cringe when I am subjected to the latest Justin Beiber squeaking out the lyrics with Cory Barnardi et al. monitoring who has their hand on heart and whose lips are moving.

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    1. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      Clinical Psychologist

      In reply to Iain Millar

      Its a very interesting comment Mr Millar, "If its good enough for Spain".

      Since the 1700's attempts have been made to have words to the anthem, but, every time the multi-cultural makeup of Spain defeats it.

      The only time there was a actual word make up of the anthem was in the period of 1939-78 when General Franco ruled the nation. The words solely in Spanish (Castillian) with the intent that Spanish would be the only language of Spain, in order to unify it after the Civil War. The Socialists…

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    2. Iain Millar

      Unemployed at Centrelink

      In reply to Gordon Angus Mackinlay

      It's like this you see, dependent on which side of the barrier you sit we either had a communist government which saved us from the meltdown of the GFC or we have a fascist government which is attempting to get us to fiscal rectitude by cleaning up the mess.
      These divide our nation just as much as WA and QLD speak their own language, our First People rarely speak intelligible English, our migrants have problems with English (I imagine you've suffered through the embarrassment of having a pre-teen translate their parents intimate details), our "boat-people" certainly take some time to become fluent.
      So, in the interests of political correctness we should not equate proficiency in English with loyalty - NO LYRICS.
      We should be the same as USA, when Defense of Fort McHenry is played, they all stand up and flash TILT, even if they don't understand a word of it - it's the tune that's important.
      Spain's problems are a mere bag'a'shells compared to ours.

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    3. Pamela H.

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Iain Millar

      You're right Iain; 'we should not equate proficiency in English with loyalty', which is why we should not be so fussy about wanting newcomers to speak English; because this is not England, this is Australia. Why don't we come up with our own language? Or is that what that ghastly strine is meant to be? We seem to be lost between England, Ireland, Scotland, a mix of other countries as well. So I wouldn't be too bothered about people not speaking English.

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  21. Jack Foks

    Tutor at Melbourne City U3A

    The question is why have a national anthem? Is it so that we have something to quieten the crowd before the start of a game of footie or cricket or is it to demonstrate that winning an Olympic gold medal does not guarantee that boring words will be remembered?

    Presumably a national anthem needs to consist of words and music with which all (or most) Australians associate and by which they are moved. "A pub with no beer" springs to mind.

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  22. Joe Morrison

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    I think this country desperately needs a proper anthem and the solution could not be simpler:

    Take the chorus of 'I am Australian' and discard all the verses. Sing the chorus three times, if you like, at increasing volumes.

    I would love to hear the crowd responding to the Haka with these 'line in the sand' words:

    We are one, but we are many
    And from all the lands on earth we come
    We share a dream and sing with one voice
    I am, you are, WE ARE AUSTRALIAN!!

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    1. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Joe Morrison

      So you believe in repetition of your chants do you?
      As if that makes reality what you want to believe it to be.

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  23. Michael Faulkner

    Freethinker at Large

    One of the odd things about 'Waltzing Matilda' is the contradiction between the title and its basic musical form. It is not a waltz in 3/4 time, but a march in 4/4.

    For those uncomfortable with this fact, try singing the words of Waltzing Matilda to the Italian folk tune, Santa Lucia.

    A fine musical congruence can then be achieved !

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  24. Pat Moore

    gardener

    For the historians particularly interested in digging deeper to unearth buried truths in the history wars (why AAF put a stop to any waltzing?) ABC RN rebroadcast on Australia Day an excellent 'Hindsight' program concerning the historical events surrounding the birth of that folk ballad.

    And most interesting were the insights regarding the form of the ballad coming from the Irish and Scottish tradition (from those long running battles back in the seat of empire/the old country.) And how as a…

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  25. Troy Howard

    Mechanic at -

    I prefer the song "I am Australian".

    From Wiki

    "I Am Australian" (or "We are Australian") is a popular Australian song written in 1987 by Bruce Woodley of The Seekers and Dobe Newton of The Bushwackers.

    To me it says all that needs to conveyed in the anthem in a way that the average Australian with their cracked vocals can sing along with, without operatic training.

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