No unity on decision to change Australia's national anthem

Dave Gough
Dave Gough

Let's not tweak, let's just rewrite the national anthem, one Indigenous advocate has said.

Six Rivers Aboriginal Corporation chairman Dave Gough wants to see the national anthem rewritten.

He did not think the word change Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday in a bid to unify all Australians went far enough.

The new version of Advance Australia Fair from January 1 no longer refers to Australia as "young and free".

In an attempt to better reflect the country's ancient Indigenous history instead people will sing, "for we are one and free."

Mr Morrison said he hoped the word change would create a "spirit of unity".

However, Mr Gough said the change did nothing to convince him.

"It's just ridiculous that they think this makes it okay," Mr Gough said.

"Changing one word to think that will make us all feel together is tokenism.

"It's well overdue for a full rewrite. Probably by Paul Kelly."

Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania chairman Michael Mansell also said the change did not make the anthem any better.

"We don't like it, it is assimilation, it is anti-Aboriginal sovereignty, and if they had done any consultation whatsoever, we would have told them that," Mr Mansell said.

"It is absolutely no better. The words we are one ignores the original people and our history and heritage.

"The reference to 'we are one' is assimilationist, which is not what Aboriginal people want."

Mr Mansell said the way to blend the stories was through a treaty, and then you could say Australia was one united nation, but he said we were nowhere near that now.

However, Tasmanian Regional Aboriginal Communities Alliance co-chair Aunty Patsy Cameron said she felt it was a wonderful New Year's outcome, and that maybe there would be a change of heart about other things, too.

Liberal MP Michael Ferguson said he was "rapt" by the PM's "inspired decision" which he felt would unify the nation "even more".

"I think it is a great decision," Mr Ferguson said.

He said with one small word change; Advance Australia Fair could continue to be an anthem for everybody.

"I think it can provide, for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, a sense of unity ...," he said.

"It is a small change, but for some people more than others, it will be a significant unifying factor, and I think that will be a good thing."

This story Anthem change labelled as tokenism first appeared on The Advocate.