We have nominated our preferred date for Australia’s National Day of Celebration/Commiseration, and now consider possible alternatives to the current national anthem, recently adjusted by bureaucratic fiat to substitute “young and free” with “one and free” to suit the present generation’s designer mood. This sets a precedent in our Federal Super Oligarchy: they can change anything as long as the Prime Minister and the State Premiers agree (or even if they don’t).
Advance Australia Fair is a dirge, frankly. As anthems go, it is vanilla: not too shabby but it might be gassed-up with some further tweaking, to reflect Australian nationhood and values in 2021:
“Australians all let us rejoice
With beach and hills and other cheap thrills
We drink and swim and ski;
Our land is full of nothing much
But dirt and scrub and snake;
In history’s page, let every stage
Show Australia on the make.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Of chardonnay and steak.
Beneath our peeling pergolas
We’ll rest our lazy hands;
And hope this Commonwealth of ours
Is renowned of all the brands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
You’ll turn back at the gate;
With courage gone along with you
Advance Australia, mate!
In arrogance then let us sing,
God Save the Queen
The Queen is good value: she does nothing and costs next to nothing. Pound for pound, she beats any other Head of State by a furlong. So God Save the Queen is a viable alternative, except that today no-one in the country believes the Queen exists and they all hate God. Perhaps we could adapt the lyrics of Henry Lawson’s The English Queen to the venerable tune? But you’d never get the State Premiers to vote for this one, any more than you could get them to regard any of their colleagues (or their electorates) with affection or tolerance, so it’s not worth running-up the nation’s flagpole (either of them).
Dorothea Mackellar’s poem (“I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains…”) is quite good and comes closer to accurately describing Australia’s eccentric changes of climate (perhaps she only meant ‘weather’) than any of our scientists at CSIRO. But long ago, my father adapted the poem to an old Estonian piano shantey, which has ruined it for me. So I vote “No”.
This is a serious contender. Admittedly, it involves three noxious concepts: (1) Camping, (2) Sheep Rustling and (3) Suicide; be that as it may, it seems to perfectly sum-up Australia today and forever. But technically, it is a song, rather than an anthem.
Tempting, tempting…it is a stirring tune, capable of galvanising a great nation to great things. But as this we aren’t, and these we can’t do, it’s a horse that won’t run.
What about adapting Donald Horne’s harsh-but-fair verdict on Australia, sung to the tune of John Williamson’s True Blue:
The Lucky Country
Australia, have you no idea
And do you feign surprise when others
Don’t feel the need to make it clear?
Australia, have a beer…
Can you ever manage to adapt,
Rise and front-up to the future or
Is that choice no longer apt?
Australia, (besieged and trapt…)
Australia, are you out of luck
Forced to run amuck, at the back of the truck,
If you came from overseas or were dragged-up here
Are we all First Tier?
Hey, Land of mutts, have you lost your guts,
Will you vomit-up your heart
After the barn door shuts?
It’s Australia’s Key, (heroic apathy…)
Australia, are you reading me,
Is your wealth from golden soil now
Sent from our brown land girt by sea
Or down the shute, and all for free
Australia, are you second rate
Expedited freight, waking-up too late?
Do you lack the wherewithal, fallen off the ute
Malady acute, Stra-li-a…
[Repeat 1st Chorus]