Scott Morrison announces change to the Australian national anthem

Scott Morrison announces change to the Australian national anthem

Australia changes its national anthem to remove the word ‘young’ because it is ‘disrespectful’ to Aboriginals

  • The second line of Advance Australia Fair will change from 1 January 2021
  • ‘For we are young and free’ has been modified to ‘For we are one and free’
  • Scott Morrison said change recognises fact ‘our country’s story is ancient’
  • Comes after critics claimed line was disrespectful to Aboriginal history 

Scott Morrison has announced a vital change to the Australian national anthem after critics argued the line ‘we are young and free’ was disrespectful to Aboriginal history.

The Governor-General Hon David Hurley has agreed to a government recommendation to change the wording of Australia’s National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair. 

The second line of Advance Australia Fair will change from ‘For we are young and free’ to ‘For we are one and free’ – with the new Anthem to come into effect from January 1, 2021.

Critics have long called for the lyrics to be altered to reflect indigenous Australians as the longest living culture in the world. 

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Scott Morrison has announced the second line of the Australian national anthem will be changed from January 1, 2021

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the change was made to reflect all Australians.

‘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,’ he said.

‘It is time to ensure this great unity is reflected more fully in our national anthem.’

‘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.

Mr Morrison said changing ‘young and free’ to ‘one and free’ takes nothing away, but he believes it adds much value.

‘It recognises the distance we have travelled as a nation. It recognises our national story is drawn from more than 300 national ancestries and language groups and we are the most successful multicultural nation on earth,’ he said.

Olivia Fox sings the national anthem during a Wallabies 2020 Tri-Nations match on December 5

 Indigenous players refused to sing the national anthem in protest during state of origin last year (Pictured left to right: Mitchell, Addo-Carr and Walker did not sing. They were joined by Payne Haas)

‘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.’

The prime minister added the past year had highlighted the strength of all Australians in staying together and supporting each other.

‘We are making our own Australian way through this crisis, a way guided by our enduring principles and values and together, we have done so better than almost any other country in the world,’ he said.

Australia stand for the national anthem during the 2020 Tri-Nations match between the Australian Wallabies and the Argentina Pumas at Bankwest Stadium. In December, Wallabies players sung the Australian national anthem in both Eora and English

‘Our unity has been critical to this achievement. ‘One and free’ is and must be the story of every Australian and it’s the way we truly Advance Australia Fair.’

There have been calls to change the national anthem for years, with most criticism directed at the second line for its failure to recognise Aboriginal history prior to colonisation.  


Australians all let us rejoice,

For we are one and free;

We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;

Our home is girt by sea;

Our land abounds in nature’s gifts Of beauty rich and rare;

In history’s page, let every stage Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross We’ll toil with hearts and hands;

To make this Commonwealth of ours Renowned of all the lands;

For those who’ve come across the seas We’ve boundless plains to share;

With courage let us all combine To Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.

The controversial lyrics have sparked public protests, with national sporting events typically at the forefront of debate around changing the national anthem. 

Last year, half of the Indigenous team refused to sing the Australian national anthem played in the lead up to the NRL game against the Indigenous All Stars and Maori All Stars.

Nine Origin stars refused to sing the anthem before game one of 2019 series at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, including Blues stars Cody Walker, Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell and Payne Haas.

Maroons stars Josh Papalii, Dane Gagai, Kalyn Ponga, Dylan Napa and Will Chambers also boycotted the anthem. 

Due to the protests, the NRL made the controversial decision in October this year to scrap the playing of the anthem as part of the blockbuster’s entertainment program for the 2020 season.

But the NRL back-flipped its decision hours later due to massive public backlash from angry rugby league fans, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Independent commission chairman Peter V’landys reportedly overturned the decision after Mr Morrison called on him to reconsider, with the prime minister later commenting the NRL made the right choice by listening to their fans.

‘We have all faced a year of struggle and heartbreak and it has never been more important to be coming together to celebrate Australia and to be able to sing together our national anthem at the game so many of us love,’ Mr Morrison previously told Daily Mail Australia.

Wallabies players sung the Australian national anthem in both Eora, a First Nations language, and English ahead of the Tri Nations Test against Argentina at the Western Sydney Stadium

The outcry against the national anthem has also led to indigenous groups creating their own renditions.  

In September 2019, Indigenous group Recognition in Anthem tweaked the Advance Australia Fair in the hope it would formally be adopted by the government – replacing the second line with the latest lyrics about to come into effect. 

Days later, the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir at Alice Springs’ annual Desert Song festival sang the rewritten version to celebrate and acknowledge Aboriginals who have lived in the country for 60,000 years.

Earlier this year in February the national anthems were scrapped in favour of traditional dances at the Indigenous All-Stars NRL game between Australia and New Zealand. 

In December, Wallabies players sung the Australian national anthem in both Eora, a First Nations language, and English ahead of the Tri Nations Test against Argentina at the Western Sydney Stadium. 

While the move was widely praised, indigenous sports stars Latrell Mitchell and  Anthony Mundine hit out at the decision, arguing that changing the language didn’t change the meaning of the song.

After Indigenous players again refused to sing during the opener of the NRL’s state of Origin series this year, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian put out a call for a national discussion on the Advance Australia Fair.

She claimed changing the phrase from ‘young and free’ to ‘one and free’ would be an acknowledgement of ‘our proud Indigenous history’.

Mr Morrison told Daily Mail Australia the NRL made the right decision by listening to their fans and acting quickly to overturn their choice not to play the national anthem at the Origin Series

‘There should be a national discussion on this involving all Australians including Indigenous Australians,’ she said.

‘I think it’s about time we recognise the tens of thousands of years of the First Nations people of this continent. Unity is so important.’

Her opinion was echoed by several other politicians, including Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, Labour leader Anthony,  and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney and One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson also expressed support for the change. 

Advance Australia Fair was composed by Peter Dodds McCormick and first performed in 1878.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke last recommended a modification of the National Anthem to the Governor-General in 1984. 

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