On 19 April 1984, Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen, proclaimed “Advance Australia Fair” as our national anthem – on recommendation by the then Hawke-Keating Labor Government. The previous anthem, “God Save the Queen”, was retained for Regal and Vice-Regal occasions.
The original version of Advance Australia Fair had five verses and was written and composed by Peter Dodds McCormick in the 1870s. Our current version only has the first and third verses of the original, with both verses modified to appease the politically correct.
Celebrate our national anthem’s proclamation anniversary (19 April) by:
- singing Advance Australia Fair from the roof tops in full cry, wherever you may be (and flying the Aussie flag in pride)
- reading all the five verses of our anthem’s original version
- exploring further the context around our anthem and how it replaced its predecessor
- completing the survey on our website that poses our own anthem question, and/or
- sharing this Action Plan post on social media with friends, family and other patriotic Aussies.
Further details on our anthem
Replacing God Save the Queen as our national anthem built up steam over the 1970s, particularly under the radical leftist Whitlam Labor government. Whitlam conducted a nationwide opinion survey in 1974 through the ABS. 60,000 people voted nationally with Advance Australia Fair scoring more votes than the other two candidates, namely Waltzing Matilda and Song of Australia.
Whitlam enshrined Advance Australia Fair as our national song later that year, barring occasions of a regal nature. The subsequent Fraser Coalition Government largely reversed Whitlam's change in 1976 and made plans to decide the matter via plebiscite the following year.
Fraser’s plebiscite asked voters on 21 May 1977 – along with four other referendum questions: “Against the background that ‘GOD SAVE THE QUEEN’ is the NATIONAL ANTHEM to be played on Regal and Vice Regal occasions, electors may indicate their preferences as to which of the tunes of the songs listed below they would prefer to be played on other occasions.” The plebiscite provided four options – the three from the ABS survey in 1974 and God Save the Queen.
South Australia preferred the 'Song of Australia' and the ACT 'Waltzing Matilda', whilst the other five States and the NT supported 'Advance Australia Fair'.
Nationwide, 43.3% voted for Advance Australia Fair, 28.3% for Waltzing Matilda, 18.8% for God Save the Queen and 9.6% for Song of Australia.
Nothing further happened until over seven years later, a year into the first Hawke-Keating Labor government, which put in place the arrangement that remains to this day.
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