‘We are Australian’ new anthem?

p2403 SeekersInclusiveness should be the spirit of Australia Day, writes STEVE BROWN in his contribution to our Rest & Reflection summer series. And he suggests the Seeker’s hit would, as the national anthem, better describe what Aussies are all about.

 

Australia Day 2017 is set aside not to celebrate our history, our battles, our conflicts divisions and grievances. As a nation we struggle to move on from those things on the remaining 364 days of the year.

 

On Australia Day, we celebrate what all of us represent as a collective, our nationhood. As a collective we have created one of the greatest egalitarian nations on earth.

 

Sure, we have many issues, sure, we as a collective have done many wrongs, but on Australia Day we celebrate what we got right, the things that bind us together: Particular dates, the design of the flag, the national anthem. They have no inherent importance in themselves. Their importance lies in our nation’s recognition that at this time in our history these are the symbols that represent our collective, our nationhood – to ourselves and to the rest of the world.

 

The Australian flag carrying the stars of the Southern Cross and the Union Jack, our anthem Advance Australia Fair, let’s wear them, view them, sing them with pride and above all, in the spirit of inclusiveness.

 

Let’s do these things while keeping front and centre in our thoughts the calm, magnanimous tolerance, the easy going “She’ll be right Mate,” the good-humoured acceptance of others within our boundaries, that have been so much part of the Australian character over the past few centuries, our laconic drawl, recognised immediately around the world.

 

p2064-Steve-Brown-130That spirit, that character doesn’t survive on its own! It certainly doesn’t survive or grow with unhealthy nationalism, seeking to antagonise, using our nation’s symbols to exclude rather than unite. These only destroys our spirit and weakens our nation.

 

Steve Brown

 

All the while, let’s use Australia Day to contemplate our nationhood, asking ourselves, is there a better stronger way? Here are some thoughts to get you started.

 

Although “Advance Australia” is presently our anthem, and I will sing it with belief and passion for what it represents, I think it is rather boastful, quaint and old-worldish.

 

I would like to see our nation adopt an anthem that is more uniting in its words, something that everyone can sing with gusto while pointing both to themselves and each other – something like the Seekers song “We are Australian”. Play and sing it this year on the day.

 

I like this concept because no matter whether we are Aboriginal with a 40,000 year history or a citizen sworn in yesterday, we are all equal Australians. It does us all good to understand that nobody is more Australian than the other. We are all of this place!

 

We have argument and growing division around using the arrival of the First Fleet as the day our nation was founded. This land had been occupied for thousands of years prior to the First Fleet and had seen thousands of other arrivals over those centuries prior, as peoples made their way down through the chains of islands.

 

Since the fleet’s arrival, carrying a mere 1480 souls, there have literally been millions of other arrivals on our shores from every country on earth. Here in Alice alone we swear in 400 to 500 hundred new citizens, new arrivals, ever year.

 

All of this makes the dogged sticking to the First Fleet arrival date as the beginning of our nation, no matter what hurt and division that date may cause, patently ridiculous!

 

Given that it would help reconciliation, heal wounds and bring us closer as a nation, I see no reason at all not to do the truly Australian thing and move the day. Yes, creating another long weekend, in the land of the long weekend. This would allow us to celebrate in much grander style, in a truly Aussie way!

 

Our flag is a harder and more controversial area of possible change. The flag’s history, those that have fought and died under the symbol, the passion with which we view it, probably means if there is to be change it will take generations.

 

However, in the interest of stronger nationhood the discussion should always be open. Perhaps the time will come when we finally become a republic, something I see as inevitable given our changing multi-cultural population.

 

Lastly this year we will see much discussion about the recognition of Aboriginal people in the Constitution through a referendum.

 

We must view this process as inclusive, not divisive, recognising that rather than including Aboriginal people in this nation as equals we are in fact recognising them as the foundation of this nation, that in fact we have joined them as equals in creating this amazing nation.

 

We must not allow ourselves to go down a pathway of creating further institutionalised division and paternalism. These are the evils that have created a permanent status of victimhood and isolation for Aboriginal people. The result of any referendum must be equality. No one Australian can be any greater or lesser that the other!

 

Happy Australia Day everyone. Play the song. Sing it to someone else. I am, You are, We are – Australian!

 

 

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12 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. A Masonn
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    “Our flag is a harder and more controversial area of possible change.” I’m not so sure it is.
    The Australian flag as we know it today did not officially exist until 1954.
    Although designed in 1901 it was it was generally referred to as the Australian blue ensign or the Australian red ensign and our official national flag was the Union Jack.
    I recall my father telling me that during WW2 the Australian red ensign was more commonly seen flying above buildings in Melbourne than the blue.
    In fact, when I attended Hartley Street primary school in the late 1950s the Union Jack was still being flown though it was no longer our national flag.

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  2. Hal Duell
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    @ Ian Rennie, Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:31am: Much more likely it will be the Star Spangled Banner sung by ordinary looking shielas in trackie daks.

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  3. Ian Rennie
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Do not worry, I’m sure that the way Australia is doing the suck there will be a new anthem before too much longer sung in Arabic by ugly sheilas in hijabs holding flags of a crescent moon.

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  4. John Bell
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Dear Angela: Chuckle. “Excluding over 50s.” I forgot about that mob.
    That’s yet another group for potential representation on the Change Oz Day Committee. The Grey Al Zima Nomads. A growing threat to the Young Enlightened.
    What an ‘orrible ‘orrible thought for you youngies … eg … old blokes in Oz Day Speedos is just too ‘orrible to contemplate hey!
    Our + input to the committee is that we can see … and have experienced … over a life time … the all-pervasive mind-numbing grip that The Bureaucracy exerts over all Aussie institutions and individuals, stifling, do-nothing control freaks, chewing up public money, five star celeb accommodation, gabfest cocktails, mission statement conferences …yep … the Change Oz Day Committee sure is a juicy bureaucratic target.
    I wish you good luck with that, Angela! I must admit, I bounce outta bed happy every day … smiling at the thought that … one day … you Enlightened Youngies are gunna be the Same Age … as Us Oldies!
    More recruits for the wrinkly Speedo and Saggy Bra Brigade. A cheerful thought, is it not!

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  5. Hal Duell
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 9:55 am

    For me, the best and most encouraging story to come out of this year’s Australia Day is the one about the two young Aussie girls wearing their traditional hijabs.
    As I understand the story, the original billboard featuring the two girls was taken down from a site in Melbourne following some protests at it being there at all.
    Almost immediately over $150,000 was raised to reinstate it in multiple locations across the country.
    This is inclusion. This a recognition of who we are.
    And I do hope the Canberra Theatre doesn’t get bombed, as some terrorists have threatened, for displaying the billboard.

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  6. Angela Symonds
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    So cynical, John! Don’t worry. The committee is going to exclude over 50s so as to ensure the next generation can get on with the job at hand and do what needs to be done to make this country greater than.

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  7. Just Saying
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    January 26th is the anniversary of the rum rebellion. Let’s celebrate that, get pissed and stage a coup.

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  8. John Bell
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Personally, I’m really looking forward to the election of the Change Australia Day Committee. The process promises to be a doozy.
    Who is going to decide how many members on the committee? Mal, Bill Richard, Penny, Julie, Warren, Marcia, Noel, Cathy – all of the above?
    Then, who will chair the committee and how many members will there be?
    One female, one male, one LGBTI, from every identified ethnic group in Oz to tick the gender equity box?
    Then, where is the committee to meet? Canberra? Uluru? The MCG?
    Who will determine the travelling allowance rates, the hotel accommodation?
    When that’s all settled, then we get down to committee debate. Date change. And new flag design. And anthem change. All sitting round the table.
    Commissioning independent surveys, collating, gently debating. Arguing the merits. The differences of ethnic group opinion. Strewth.
    A bonanza for the caterers, the bureaucrats, the sensationalistic media, the protest marchers. Can’t wait for the show to begin!

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  9. Sally Rose
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Jimmy Cocking for Mayor! He gets it!

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  10. Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Steve, I think we should be celebrating Groundhog Day in the Territory on the 26th.

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  11. Jimmy Cocking
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks Steve for your valuable insights. Perhaps the Town Council could take some heart from the City of Fremantle that put their sentiments to action with moving their ‘Australia Day’ event to Saturday 28th this year, much to the displeasure of the Prime Minister and others in the conservative realm. The idea of a long weekend is a favourable one.
    On the issue of Consitutional recognition, I think it is necessary – though it really depends on what Indigenous people want – will this give opportunities currently inaccessible?
    Will it change anything in people’s lives to make it worthwhile? If not, then it is pointless.
    Constitutional recognition should also look at how treaties could be initiated under the current Section 51 or create a new section to facilitate a treaty making process.
    Until there is recognition of the rights of Indigenous people to have sovereignty of their land and culture and treaty processes to enable parties to negotiate in equal terms rather than the terms set out under the mildly adjusted White Australia Constitution of 1901 – then we will continue to have structural inequality in Australia.
    This would be a nation building project that would allow Australia an opportunity to define its destiny rather than perpetuating the “terra nullius” approach to our natural resources and geopolitical positioning that the English started, Yanks extended and now the Chinese perpetuate.
    Treaties don’t have to be just between a nation state and its indigenous people, it is a framework for ensuring equality of negotiation for access to land and resources.
    The current Aboriginal Land Rights Act and Native Title processes do not allow for that, they are geared in favour of the extractor.

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  12. Alan Partridge
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Hi Steve, if you had an opinion of influence what would you like the new flag to look like, assuming we didn’t wait a few generations?

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