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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 4391

Mr HANSEN (Wide Bay) - The motion that we 'are discussing asks this House to express the opinion that the Australian national anthem should not be changed without a total vote of the Australian people. I believe that the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) did indicate what a total vote means and how complicated it would be to achieve one. It would be even more complicated than asking the public to vote on any one of the number of entries which were submitted by people who are genuinely concerned about this matter. People with a national pride submitted some 4,000 entries consisting of either words or music or of both and representing what they believed should be the Australian national anthem. They do not believe that we should have an anthem that his been passed on from our colonial days. When it is said that the present anthem has been our national anthem for 200 years it is worth recalling that we have been a nation for only 72 years, and it is a matter of personal pride to me that we are now going to have an Australian national anthem.

I agree that the anthem decided on may not be my choice, but I certainly believe that we should have an anthem that is Australian, that is about Australians and that will be sung by Australians whenever they feel there is a necessity to sing the national anthem. The words and melody of 'God Save the Queen' are obscure. It has been stated that the words have been changed on various occasions in order to spare the pangs created by the original verse but, as I say, the words are obscure. The earliest copy of the words appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine' of 1745. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in announcing the plans for his proposal to hold a competition for the Australian national anthem has on a number of occasions indicated that he is not scrapping -God Save the Queen'. He is not suggesting this at all. He is relegating it to a most important place in our Australian history and our way of life. It will be reserved for Royal occasions when the Queen - or whoever is the monarch at the time - will be present. Indeed, these will not be infrequent occasions because we will soon have had within 6 months 2 visits to Australia by the Queen.

The same people who are criticising the proposal for an Australian national anthem have criticised the Prime Minister. In fact, I heard some critical remarks passed at the recent parliamentary reception when the Prime Minister proposed the toast to the Queen of Australia. Some of those people must have thought very hard when the Queen herself said that this was a title that her father had sought back in 1947 and how pleased she was to have this title bestowed upon her. I do not believe that Australians are any less loyal than their English counterparts. I would not say that it was altogether voluntary and I would not say that we dodged the occasion, but as the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) said, we all remember in our school days assembling before the flag and singing 'God Save the Queen' - although in my day it was 'God Save the King'.

I must admit that my singing ability is very limited. As a matter of fact, not long ago I stood on an occasion when we sang God Save the Queen' at the loyal toast and a gentleman who has some knowledge of music and who was sitting alongside me said, 'How come your wife can sing so well and you cannot even sing "God Save the Queen"?' I recall that at school when there was choir practice I was always given the job of going and weeding the garden. So I cannot claim to have any knowledge of music, Mr Deputy Speaker, otherwise I would probably sing you some verses of 'God Save the Queen' at the moment. Probably one of the few people in this House who is qualified in music is my colleague the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) who, for 6 years, held the Australian championship in E flat bass. He was one of the best players in the brass band at the time when the Cairns Citizens Brass Band was one of the leading bands in Australia. I would say that the honourable member for Leichhardt would be better qualified than most honourable members to say what should constitute the national anthem.

Mr Luchetti - The others can play their bugle pretty well.

Mr HANSEN - There is a story about the man- the better bugler- with the 4 B's, but I will reserve that for another occasion. There is within Australia a feeling of nationalism. We want something that is distinctly Australian. The gallup polls have shown that an increasing number of people are in favour of an Australian national anthem; in fact 80 per cent have already indicated that they favour an Australian national anthem. I do not think that any of these people are disloyal or merely want to drop 'God Save the Queen', but they feel that there is a need for an Australian national anthem. People will be going shortly to New Zealand for the Commonwealth Games - and I believe that the word 'Commonwealth' is used properly in that sense as it involves the Commonwealth countries. It is not used properly when it is applied to this Parliament. However, the people who will attend these games - and this applies to those who, for instance, attended the Olympic Games in Munich - will see Australians win various events and hear 'God Save the Queen' played as the national anthem of the winning country. They will wonder who these Australians are - are they Englishmen or are they Australians? Some of the comments that were made by Australian competitors returning from the Munich Games brought that point home to us. I believe that 'God Save the Queen' should not be included in any opinion poll. The newly-found interest of Opposition members in referendums is strange to understand. I do not recall any call for a referendum when it was decided to conscript the youth of the country and send them to Vietnam. Perhaps that was not so important as whether we should retain 'God Save the Queen' I hope the motion is defeated, because I want an Australian national anthem, about Australia, written by an Australian, if necessary. I do not care whether it be a new or old Australian, but certainly I want an anthem of Australian origin and for Australia.

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