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Sorry, Scott Morrison, my family won’t be singing Advance Australia Fair

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(Image screenshot guardian.com)

Scott Morrison wants all Australian schoolchildren to be forced to stand and sing Australia's national anthem. Fifth generation Australian Denise McAvaney says her family won't be forced.

In 1981, the National Australia Day Council recommended the Australian National Anthem consist of two modified verses of Advance Australia Fair — a song that pre-dates Federation.

It was penned in late 19th century, yet was somehow adopted by an already multicultural Australia a century later as our national anthem. It was formally approved by then Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, in 1984. In other words, the Australian national anthem to replace God Save The Queen had to get Her Majesty’s approval.

It is also the song new treasurer and former Border Force supremo Scott Morrison insists all Australian schoolchildren should be forced to stand and sing.

Now, I was only ever taught two verses of this piece. I've proudly sung the first verse, always. The "second verse" I was so proud of knowing, while rugby players mouthed la la la in good natured pre-match lip-syncing, is really the third verse.

So let's cast an eye over all the lyrics to Scott's favourite song to see how acceptable they are to modern, critical thinking Australians [IA emphasis]:

Advance Australia Fair

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young 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!"

When gallant Cook from Albion sail'd,
To trace wide oceans o'er,
True British courage bore him on,
Till he landed on our shore.
Then here he raised Old England's flag,
The standard of the brave;
With all her faults we love her still,
"Brittannia rules the wave!"
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!"

While other nations of the globe
Behold us from afar,
We'll rise to high renown and shine
Like our glorious southern star;
From England, Scotia, Erin's Isle,
Who come our lot to share,
Let all combine with heart and hand
To advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

Should foreign foe e'er sight our coast,
Or dare a foot to land,
We'll rouse to arms like sires of yore
To guard our native strand;
Brittannia then shall surely know,
Beyond wide ocean's roll,
Her sons in fair Australia's land
Still keep a British soul.
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

It’s not hard to see why the Queen approved this song. The second, fourth and fifth verses, which cravenly lick the boots of monarchist England, are at best an historic curiosity and, at worst, an embarrassment to a nation that supposedly espouses egalitarianism and a fair go.

If the three colonialist verses were unacceptable in 1984, they’re unconscionable in 2015.

Proclaiming Advance Australia Fair is now politically correct or culturally appropriate because we only sing two verses is about as logical as suggesting post-slavery United States should have adapted The Confederacy’s Civil War tune Bonnie Blue Flag as an anthem. Or perhaps that after the Berlin Wall came down, Germany should have tweaked the Nazi Marching Song as a cheeky '90s remix.

I'm a fifth generation Aussie descended from British families who acted in self-entitlement and ignorance. I'm grateful to be born in the "Lucky Country", but I won't perpetuate the toadying to the British Empire and its brutalities. The dispossession and attempted genocide of Indigenous Australians. The corrupt forced transportation of impoverished lower classes from Britain to a colony. How many young girls committed no crime other than being assessed as good breeding stock for thugs in the Rum Colony?

I married an Irishman, whose country has been occupied by England for 800 years.

English ownership of Irish farming land compromised biodiversity and led to a famine. England chose to use the stores of grain as export crops, rather than feed the starving Irish people. Some Irish were sold as slaves to sugar plantations in the Caribbean. Other Irish citizens who protested English occupation and oppression were slaughtered or sent to colonial Australia as Empire fodder.

His people suffered dispossession from their land, his native language banned, his ancestors taught to read and write in hedgerows by brave souls who would be shot for teaching Irish children if caught by the English. British tanks rolled into football stadiums and fired into women and children as the world watched and did nothing.

My husband's joy at becoming an Australian citizen was marred by the hated Union Jack on the Australian flag, the local government office where he pledged his allegiance to Australia displaying the portrait of a parasitic monarch whose family has oppressed the world for generations and the signature of then Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison on his Australian Citizenship Certificate.

Not content with just being immigration minister, Morrison and the (still?) Englishman Abbott had decided to add Border Protection to his title. The horrors suffered by asylum seekers under Morrison's governance has brought international condemnation and dragged Australia from successful multiculturalism to a house divided.

Why, then, become an Australian citizen, you might ask my husband. After all, aren't newcomers to this nation told "love it, or leave"? Aren't ugly white supremacists and ignorant shit-stirrers like Pauline Hanson, Reclaim Australia and the United Aussie Patriots full of welcoming advice such as "fuck off, we're full?" Can't Australians be detained indefinitely without charge if suspected of terrorist activity in Morrison’s political climate of fear?

Before I answer why, let's first look at Deborah Cheetham's alternative lyrics to our national anthem — which show truth, optimism and acceptance of all.

Ms Cheetham's alternative lyrics, as revealed by The Conversation last month, are as follows:

Australia, celebrate as one, with peace and harmony.
Our precious water, soil and sun, grant life for you and me.
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts to love, respect and share,
And honouring the Dreaming, advance Australia fair.
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.

Australia, let us stand as one, upon this sacred land.
A new day dawns, we’re moving on to trust and understand.
Combine our ancient history and cultures everywhere,
To bond together for all time, advance Australia fair.
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.

Australia, let us strive as one, to work with willing hands.
Our Southern Cross will guide us on, as friends with other lands.
While we embrace tomorrow’s world with courage, truth and care,
And all our actions prove the words, advance Australia fair.
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.

And when this special land of ours is in our children’s care,
From shore to shore forever more, advance Australia fair.
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance … Australia … fair.

It's a crying shame the AFL Grand Final and a national audience didn't get to hear this alternative version sung by a proudly Indigenous Australian performer. There's always next year, Ms Cheetham. A lot of people want to hear you. A lot of Australians from many cultures want change, and equality.

You see, my husband became an Australian citizen so he could enrol to vote. So he can take positive action and vote against a regime that espouses all the horror of the Thatcher years.

We love Australia, my husband and I. We're grateful for the opportunities Australia grants our family. We want those opportunities extended to everyone who lives in Australia

So we won't stand for Advance Australia Fair. We'll vote for a fair go, instead.

Author's note: With gratitude to @Triplejay58 on Twitter, for showing me full lyrics of a song best left behind in an era most shameful to Australia.

You can follow Denise McAvaney on Twitter @mamaduck9370.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

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