A new version of the Australian national anthem has been adopted, with one line of the song’s lyrics changing from January 1 onwards.
In a late night announcement on New Year’s Eve, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Governor-General David Hurley had agreed to the federal government’s recommendation to amend the anthem.
The second line of Advance Australia Fair will change from “For we are young and free” to “For we are one and free”.
“During the past year, we have showed once again the indomitable spirit of Australians and the united effort that has always enabled us to prevail as a nation. It is time to ensure this great unity is reflected more fully in our national anthem,” Mr Morrison said.
“Also, 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.
“In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we ensure our national anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation.
“Changing ‘young and free’ to ‘one and free’ takes nothing away, but I believe it adds much. It recognises the distance we have travelled as a nation.
“It recognises that our national story is drawn from more than 300 national ancestries and language groups and we are the most successful multicultural nation on earth.
“It reaffirms our resolve as one of the world’s oldest democracies, while honouring the foundations upon which our nation has been built and the aspirations we share for the future.
“‘One and free’ is and must be the story of every Australian, and it’s the way we truly Advance Australia Fair.”
The slight change to the anthem’s lyrics has been backed by politicians from both major parties.
“I think it’s about time we recognise the tens of thousands of years of the First Nations people of this continent,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in November.
“Recognising all of our key parts of our society is critical. And I think if we say, ‘We’re one and free,’ it acknowledges that we’re not really young as a continent. We’re tens of thousands of years old when it comes to human inhabitants.
“Respect is important. Inclusiveness is important.”
“I think we should be one nation as all Australians, regardless of race, colour or creed, whether you’re migrants who have come here to this nation,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“I have no problem with changing the wording to ‘one’ if it will unite our nation.”
It’s the first modification to the anthem since the Hawke government in 1984, when it was changed from God Save the Queen to Advance Australia Fair.