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National Symbols

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National Symbols

The National Anthem Advance Australia Fair was proclaimed as the national anthem on 19 April 1984 by the Governor-General. Non-sexist words were adopted. Advance Australia Fair is used on all occasions other than those on which the Royal Anthem or the Vice-Regal salute is used. Until 1974 the anthem used was God Save the Queen/King. The Whitlam Government, following the result of a public opinion poll conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, changed the anthem to Advance Australia Fair, except for specifically royal occasions. In January 1976, the Fraser Government reinstated the use of God Save the Queen for royal, vice-regal, defence and loyal toast occasions. Advance Australia Fair was played on all other official occasions.

The National Song Poll was held on 21 May 1977, at the same time as four referendum proposals. Advance Australia Fair was the clear choice of the voters. The Referendum section of the Parliamentary Handbook provides details of the voting in the poll. The Minister for Administrative Services then announced that the anthem was Advance Australia Fair. From 1985 both God Save the Queen and Advance Australia Fair are played at the beginning of official functions attended by the Queen or member of the royal family.

The text of the proclamation of 19 April 1984 is reproduced:

PROCLAMATION Commonwealth of Australia By His Excellency the Governor-General N. M. STEPHEN of the Commonwealth of Australia Governor-General

I, SIR NINIAN MARTIN STEPHEN, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, hereby declare (a) that the anthem “God Save The Queen” shall hence-

forth be known as the Royal Anthem and be used in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen or a member of the Royal Family; (b) that the National Anthem shall consist of the tune known as “Advance Australia Fair” with the following words:

Australians all let us rejoice, For we are young and free; We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil; Our home is girt by sea; Our land abounds in nature’s gifts Of beauty rich and rare; In history’s page, let every stage Advance Australia Fair. In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross

We’ll toil with hearts and hands; To make this Commonwealth of ours Renowned of all the lands; For those who’ve come across the seas We’ve boundless plains to share; With courage let us all combine To Advance Australia Fair. In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.

(c) that the Vice-Regal Salute to be used in the presence of His Excellency The Governor-General shall consist of the first four bars and the last four bars of the tune known as “Advance Australia Fair”;

(d) that the National Anthem shall be used on all official and ceremonial occasions, other than occasions on which either the Royal Anthem or the Vice-Regal Salute is used; and

(e) that green and gold (Pantone Matching System numbers 116C and 348C as used for printing on paper) shall be the national colours of Australia for use on all occasions on which such colours are customarily used.

(L.S.) GIVEN under my Hand and the Great Seal of Australia on 19 April 1984.

By His Excellency’s Command M. J. YOUNG Special Minister of State


The Australian Flag The Flags Act 1953 formally established the Australian flag. The flag is described as: The Australian national flag has a blue field with the ‘Union Jack’ in the canton (the upper quarter next to the flagpole). The seven-pointed Commonwealth star in the lower hoist represents the six States and

the Territories. In the fly are the five stars of the constellation of the Southern Cross. Four of the stars have seven points and the smallest one has five. 1

The National Colours

The Governor-General’s Proclamation of 19 April 1984 fixed green and gold as the official colours of Australia.

1 The Australian National Flag, AGPS, Canberra.

The Coat of Arms

The Coat of Arms was first granted by King Edward VII by Royal Warrant on 7 May 1908. Amendments incorporating specific references to the States were approved, on the recommendation of the Commonwealth Government, by King George V by Royal Warrant on 19 September 1912.

The Coat of Arms depicts a shield of six parts with representations of the badges of the six States, with a kangaroo and emu, resting on ornamental supports, on either side of the shield. This is set over small branches of flowering wattle, beneath which is the word ‘Australia’. Above the shield is the crest, with the seven-pointed gold star of Federation resting on a blue and gold wreath.

The Floral Emblem Australia’s national floral emblem, the Golden Wattle, Acacia pycnantha, was proclaimed on 1 September 1988. On the advice of the Government, the Governor-General proclaimed on 23 June 1992 that 1 September each year is to be observed as National Wattle Day throughout Australia.