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Waltzing Australia


Monday, October 25, 2010

10. The National Anthem

Today on the radio they were discussing our national anthem - Advance Australia Fair, and giving opinions on whether people should sing along when it is played. One (or was it both?) of the radio chaps said people should not sing the words, said it was "un-Australian". Un-Australian my foot - whenever I hear Advance Australia Fair being played on the television (example just before the Grand Final or the Olympics, etc.), I always stand and I sing the words with gusto. I mean how could anyone say singing the words to your national anthem is un-Australian? Or un-French if you're French, of un-Greek if your Greek, etc? Bah, what a load of bollocks - sing, sing along I say and be proud.

The Littlest Republican
I remember when I was a child when we went to the pictures, God save the queen was always played before the picture (film) started and we had to stand up and it annoyed me because the seats would flip up every time you stood and fwit whack it'd hit you right on the back of the legs. When I asked mum and dad why did I have to stand up for I was told it was God save the queen. Who's the queen I wanted to know and on being told she was in England I took an instant dislike to her and wanted to know why do I have to stand up for some old bag in another country?

When in my late teens, every night when the television station closed for the night (there was no such thing as 24 hour televsion then) just before closing they played - you've guessed it. God save the blooming queen. As a young nineteen year old I made sure my derrière was firmly ensconced on the seat!

Then some years later we at last had a national anthem that was ours - Advance Australia Fair. And about time too, who ever heard of a country having as their national anthem one belonging to another country?

A Little Bit of History
In 1860, Carl Linger from South Australia wrote ‘The Song of Australia’ and it was suggested to the Prime Minister in 1929 as a possible national anthem.
Before the 1956 Olympic Games which were held in Melbourne, the issue of an Australian national anthem was again raised (quite persistantly) and the two songs most in favour were "Advance Australia Fair" and "Waltzing Matilda". Waltzing Matilda was written in 1895 by Banjo Patterson, one of our most famous poets.

There were other, later polls and in 1974 "Advance Australia Fair" polled 51.4% and after this the  Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam announced that "Advance Australia Fair" would be the national anthem, except on specifically Royal occasions, when both it and God save the queen would be played.

Liberal Backflip
But in 1976, after a change of government, God save the queen was reinstated for Royal, vice-regal, defence and loyal toast occasions, with ‘Advance Australia Fair’ to be played on all other official occasions. (It should perhaps be noted for the benefit of non-Australians, that we had a Labor government in 1974 and a Liberal one in 1976)

So now we come to May 1977 and a national poll was conducted to get the public choice of a national anthem (more than seven million people were issued with ballot papers)and the results were - "Advance Australia Fair" 43.2%, "Waltzing Matilda" 28.3%, "God save the queen" 18.7% and ‘Song of Australia’ 9.6%.

Our own anthem at last
It was not until April 1984 that the Governor-General issued a proclamation that God save the queen was designated the Royal Anthem, to be played at public engagements in Australia attended by the members of the Royal family. "Advance Australia Fair" was finally declared to be the Australian national anthem.

I came upon this version of Waltzing Matilda and I must say it is really a wonderful rendition.

I would also like to add "Song of Australia", which to my mind is on a par with "Advance Australia Fair" and in some ways I think I like better.

Here is the first verse of "Song of Australia"
There is a land where summer skies
Are gleaming with a thousand dyes,
Blending in witching harmonies, in harmonies;
And grassy knoll, and forest height,
Are flushing in the rosy light,
And all above in azure bright -

As there are five verses in all, rather than write them all, you can read them here which is from the Flinders Ranges Research and has information about its writer, Caroline Carleton.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

9. Our Sally Wins Gold

Above: A victorious Sally Pearson
Sally Pearson won the 100 metre sprint in 11.28 seconds. Sally finished the final first ahead of Nigeria’s Osayemi Oludamola (11.32) and Natasha Mayers of St Vincent and the Grenadines (11.37), with England’s Katherine Endacott fourth.

Commonwealth Games Fiasco
Sally Pearson was stripped of her Commonwealth Games gold medal after a protest was lodged by the English team. Pearson had taken a victory lap and was preparing for the medal ceremony when she was told of the protest.

She (Pearson) was originally cleared by track officials to race despite appearing to false-start alongside England's Laura Turner. Time sensors at the stadium found Turner had broken from the blocks 0.001sec ahead of Pearson, but England's team management argued the margin was so small as to constitute a dual false start.

England's protest was eventually upheld – and survived a counter-protest from the Australians – after four hours of deliberations before an IAAF appeals jury. That allowed another English sprinter, Katherine Endacott, to be elevated from fourth to the bronze medal position and Oludamola to claim the gold.

The claims that stripping Pearsons of her 100 metres Commonwealth Games Gold medal is payback by the English team could very well be true - Nick Honey from Athletics Victoria says there's bad blood between the teams after an Australian appeal at the last games saw the English team disqualified in the women's 4x400 relay.

Above: A devastated Sally Pearson
She may have had her Gold medal taken from her, but there is still the undistputable fact that Sally Pearson won the race and came first. And the English contestant came fourth. Had there been no false start, would Pearson still have won? Most likely. Had there been no false start, would the English contestant have won a medal? Most likely not.

So there you have it folks - payback, or getting even as some might say, is something that children practise. England may have a bronze medal but it is a hollow victory - Endacott won by default. It's a little like cheating in an exam - you might get a good mark, you might even get first in class, but deep down you know you didn't earn it.