Dinky- di it’s time to waltz
After 42 years, it’s time for another referendum on the national anthem and this time Aussies will get fair dinkum and overwhelmingly opt for Waltzing Matilda. In 1977, Australians were asked to vote on a national anthem. The contenders were God Save The Queen, Advance Australia Fair, Waltzing Matilda and Song Of Australia.
Advance Australia Fair polled 43 per cent of the vote, Waltzing Matilda was second with 28 per cent, God Save The Queen (18 per cent) got bronze and Song Of Australia was stone motherless. Just over seven million ballots were issued and of these, 773,000 were informal, meaning just over six million Australians decided our national anthem. In 1977, only the good folk of the ACT — which last week made cannabis legal — gave the nod to Waltzing Matilda over Advance Australia Fair. The rest of the country — except, South Australia, which went overwhelmingly for Song of Australia — voted for Advanced Australia Fair. But things have changed. While I have nothing against Advance Australia Fair, it should be disqualified straight up for using the word “girt’’ in its lyrics. Girt by sea? Please.
And how many Aussies know the entire song off by heart? You do realise the bloke who penned Advance Australia Fair — Peter Dodds McCormick — was a Scotsman?
On the other hand, Waltzing Matilda evokes the true spirit of Australia.
In 1952, the Helsinki Olympics mob accidentally played Waltzing Matilda after Marjorie Jackson won gold in the 100m sprint. The Lithgow Flash thought it was fantastic. Did you know that a rendition of Waltzing Matilda by Slim Dusty was the first song broadcast by astronauts to Earth? That alone gives it national anthem status. Banjo was born in Orange and penned Waltzing Matilda at the Combo Waterhole in Outback Queensland. He’s also on the $10 note and has been on a postage stamp. McCormick wouldn’t get a guernsey on a 5c coin. There will be some who argue we shouldn’t glorify lyrics about a sheep thief. But hey, we’re a nation of convicts.
In World War I, Aussie soldiers sang Waltzing Matilda as they strode into battle. In the village of Villers-Bretonneux in France, Waltzing Matilda is still sung by French children in honour of Australian soldiers who defended the country against German invasion.
In Malaya in 1942, Aussie soldiers were said to be united in voice singing Waltzing Matilda as they advanced on the Japanese. Ditto Vietnam and our brave men of today. If it’s good enough for our soldiers, it should be good enough for the rest of us.
The next time you’re at a barbie, grab a coldie, hook into a snag, get rid of any galahs and ask your mates to vote for Waltzing Matilda. Advance Australia Fair? Sounds like a bloody political party.