Scott Morrison criticised as 'virtue-signalling' by Aussies upset with change to national anthem

The replacing of a single word has gotten a lot of Aussies upset.
The replacing of a single word has gotten a lot of Aussies upset. Photo credit: Getty.

At the dawn of 2021, Australia has officially changed its national anthem - which has made some Aussies grumpy on New Year's Day.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the change to 'Advance Australia Fair' has been made to reflect the unity shown during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to acknowledge the country's "ancient" story and identity. 

The second line of the song will now be "for we are one and free" instead of "for we are young and free", a change floated after NSW Premier Gladys Berejikklian said calling Australian's "young" ignored the long history of Australia's indigenous people. 

Morrison explained the change in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday night, saying how important it is to "keep Australians together".

"At no time in my lifetime have I seen this more on display than in the past year. I know this will continue to be the source of our success as we overcome the many challenges still ahead. As a people we have always been more interested in actions than words. We care more about getting things done," he writes.

"Over the past year, Australians have demonstrated through our actions that we are indeed 'one and free', as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has suggested."

Morrison said the country draws together heritage from 300 national ancestries and languages as the "most successful multicultural and immigraiton nation on earth".

Since the anthem was first written 120 years ago, Morrison said "we have also come to appreciate the timeless spirit of the ancient land we call home, and the connection to this place of Indigenous peoples who have cared for our country for thousands of years".

"Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, but our country's story is ancient, as are the stories of the many First Nations peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect."

While the change to the anthem has been welcomed by some, not everyone is pleased.

"We are not 'one and free'. Years of trickle-down economics has created two classes of Australians. Those through no fault of their own have been cast into poverty and then punished because they can't find sustaining work," said one person on Facebook. 

"We are one, except if you're poor or old or not the right shade of white."

Others said the move was meaningless and the Prime Minister should be doing better things. 

"Virtue signalling PM marketing his way to reelection," said one commenter.

"Lip service doesn't actually change anything. This is a publicity stunt."

Some online commenters applauded the change.

"Scott did the right thing, it's one word," said one social media user.

"Good and about time, now let's focus on adhering to the second verse 'for those who've come across the seas we've boundless plains to share'," added another.