Matt Garrick, ABC, January 3, 2020
A change to the lyrics of Australia’s national anthem has incensed some members of the Federal Government, according to a Coalition senator staunchly opposed to the move.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the second line of Advance Australia Fair would change from “for we are young and free” to “for we are one and free” from New Year’s Day.
Indigenous Australians, politicians and even sporting figures have claimed that the earlier wording overlooked the long history of Indigenous culture, which evidence shows is at least 65,000 years old.
“While Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, our country’s story is ancient, as are the stories of the many First Nations peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect,” Mr Morrison wrote in a statement announcing the change.
However, the move has reportedly rankled some members of his own government.
Northern Territory Country Liberal Party senator Sam McMahon, who sits with the National Party, said she was “not in favour” of the change.
“All we’re doing is pandering to the perpetually offended, and it’s not going to achieve anything that’s real,” Senator McMahon said.
“Yes, we have an old continent and an old Indigenous culture, but as a nation, we are young.
“I see absolutely no need to change [the anthem] whatsoever.”
Senator airs anthem grievances with Deputy PM
Senator McMahon said she had raised her views with Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Michael McCormack, and claimed other party members share her stance.
A spokesman for Mr McCormack wrote in a statement that “Nationals members and Senators are free to hold their own opinions and the Deputy Prime Minister respects that”.
“The Deputy Prime Minister appreciates Senator McMahon’s position on the anthem changes and was happy to discuss the issue with her.”
The Northern Territory is home to thousands of Indigenous people, including in some of the nation’s most remote and disadvantaged areas, and Senator McMahon said the change would do nothing to improve their lives.
“What is changing one word of the national anthem going to do to address the issues that we have in Indigenous communities in the NT?” she asked.
“It’s going to achieve absolutely nothing.”
Senator McMahon’s Labor counterpart, Yanyuwa woman Malarndirri McCarthy, yesterday told the Today show that she was in favour of the move.
She said she hoped it would spur the Federal Government to bring about constitutional amendments such as the First Nations Voice to Parliament that Indigenous leaders first called for in 2017.
“The fact that we can change one word so quickly and so efficiently, is it possible now that the Prime Minister can have a New Year’s resolution to see a Voice to Parliament, where First Nations people are actually a part of all of these discussions and debates?” she asked yesterday.