Australia woke up to a new year on Friday — and a slightly different national anthem.
There has been a historic change to Australia’s national anthem to reflect the country’s indigenous past.
The first line “Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free,” and now end with “one and free.”
The anthem, “Advance Australia Fair,” has been tweaked to recognize the country’s Indigenous history and communities, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced late Thursday, hours before 2021.
Happy New Year Australia, because we are one and free! 🇦🇺— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) December 31, 2020
Explaining the reasoning behind the change, the prime minister said in a statement: “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 people whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect.”
“In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we ensure our National Anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation,” he added.
Some Indigenous leaders have welcomed the change that acknowledges their history that dates back at least 65,000 years. They believe that symbolism is important.
However, 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.
Australia’s opposition Labour leader Anthony Albanese says it is an empty gesture, though.
“Changing a single word in the national anthem whilst First Nations people are not even recognized in our national constitution is simply not good enough,” he said.
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.”