Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced, Thursday, the replacement of a word in the text of the Australian national anthem, in an effort to make it more inclusive towards indigenous people and fairer in narrating the country’s pre-colonial history. In the first lines of the hymn, in the sentence that says until yesterday “All Australians, let us be happy, because we are young and free” (“We rejoice Australians, because we are young and free”), the word “youth” has been replaced by “one” and now the hymn says something like “We rejoice Australians, because we are united and free.”
Australia presents the exhibition It has been the Australian national anthem since 1984, when it was replaced God bless the queenAnd the Which until then was the British anthem and the national anthem Parliament of the United Kingdom. The hymn was written by composer Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878, when Australia was still a British colony (it gained independence in 1901), and it was very successful as a folk and patriotic song. However, the hymn text has often been criticized for not representing or recognizing the indigenous peoples of Australia and instead celebrates the Australian colonial period.
The line identifying Australians as “young,” for example, denotes colonial Australia, ignoring the island’s millennial history before colonization; But many other passages of the hymn have been criticized over time. Defining the Australian people as “free” has been deemed offensive to Indigenous Australians who today are still victims of repeated bouts of racism and discrimination, while passages referring to the nation’s wealth do not seem to consider the vast majority of the indigenous population nearly. 700,000 Indigenous Australians live in poverty and are only preserved thanks to government subsidies.
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Discussions to change or update the national anthem have been going on for some time, and have intensified recently, when some indigenous players in the Australian Rugby League refused, among other things, to sing the national anthem before matches. In November, the Prime Minister of the Australian state of New South Wales, Gladys Prejiclian, suggested replacing the word “young” with “one”, to speak of what was probably the most controversial line in the hymn. Prejiclian herself, of the conservative liberal party, spoke of a “symbolic” gesture, but her proposal was well received by Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Ken White, and many other public figures.
Prime Minister Morrison of the Liberal Party announced that the lyrics of the hymn would be changed In an article published Thursday at Sydney Morning Herald Titled “Time to Recognize Australia, United and Free”. Morrison explained that it is fair to admit that even if the Australian nation is young, its history goes back to the millennial generation, he added that he believes that “changing” young and free “to” one and free “does not take away anything, but adds a lot.” One of the arguments of those who opposed changing the anthem was that any change would effectively erase a portion of the country’s history. Anthony Albanese, leader of the Labor Party, Australia’s main opposition party, also welcomed Morrison’s decision.
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