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Thursday, 31 August 1972
Page: 1105

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) - The majority of Australians favour their country having a distinctive Australian national anthem. The majority of Australian athletes competing on behalf of their country at the Olympic Games in Munich are embarrassed that they are reduced to the colonial status of Southern Rhodesia because of the absence of a distinctive national song. I was asked by some Australian athletes who represented our country at the Games in Mexico to press for Australia to have its own distinctive anthem. We have failed them in not ensur ing that their victories are properly recognised as Australian triumphs by Australian men and woman. This failure occurs every time we take the international arena. I well recall the Australian Lionel Rose taking the ring in Japan in a world championship fight. 1 remember the embarrassment and resentment among Australians that Australia could not even honour the event and honour Lionel Rose with a song of his own country. If we were resentful and embarrassed, 1 can tell you that the Japanese were confused. It is little wonder that we are called the last of the colonies. It is little wonder that some Indonesian school books I have seen describe the political structure of Australia as being headed by the British High Commissioner. Yet the

Prime Minister of Australia in 1972 (Mr McMahon) said this morning that the majority of Australians favoured having no Australian anthem.

Further the Prime Minister of Australia attacked my friend and colleague, the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison), and reflected on his loyalty to Australia and our national spirit. It is incredible that the Australian Prime Minister in 1972 should give a reply so out of keeping with national sentiment. I draw a parallel with the reply by one of his predecessors, Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce. In answer to a question which appears in volume 120 of Hansard reporting the debates of 6th February 1929 to 22nd March 1929 at page 1096- just in case you wish to refer to it, Mr Speaker - he said:

I am not prepared to suggest to the people of Australia that they should substitute for the present national anthem any other composition although I entirely agree the 'Song of Australia' may be suitably sung on Australian occasions.

We had the spectacle of an Australian Prime Minister 43 years later being even more conservative, even more colonial and even more rejecting of any recognition of Australian sentiment.

Mr Armitage - Lord Bruce lost his seat too.

Mr Grassby - Quite right. I seem to recall that Prime Minister Bruce went to his reward when he lost the general election, lost his seat and left his country never to reside here again.

Mr Armitage - The same thing will happen to the present Prime Minister.

Mr GRASSBY - Whatever events lie in store for the present Prime Minister he should be reminded that he is completely out of touch with Australian national sentiment. A survey carried out in August last year disclosed that 90 per cent of the people of New South Wales. Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia shared the view that we should have an Australian anthem. Two years earlier a gallup poll on the subject showed 51 per cent- even in 1969 - favoured an Australian anthem and this was a remarkable 13 per cent increase since 1965. The onward march of Australian national sentiment in clearly established. Yet the Prime Minister today denied this and indicated it was disloyal to favour the expression of an Australian sentiment. He failed to tell us disloyal to what - perhaps to the colonial past.

I want to direct further attention to just how much out of touch with the country the Prime Minister really is on this matter, and I am indebted to my friend the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) who pointed out that at the 19th annual convention of Australian Lions, embracing 800 clubs and 32,000 members throughout Australia, it was decided to recommend to the national Government that a new national anthem be adopted. They happened to recommend 'Song of Australia' which is already played, I understand, as a national anthem at many functions in South Australia. This bid for a new national anthem has been supported in writing to the national chairman of Lions by professional musicians, music teachers associations, brass band associations, many local government bodies, the Country Women's Association, the Methodist Church, the Catholic Church through its spokesman and the Anglican Church through Bishop Reed of Adelaide. They have all written to the national chairman of Lions, R. A. V. Wallace, who has circulated the music and history of the song which the Lions have recommended as the new national anthem. I think it is incredible that the Prime Minister should describe all these people in Lions - and 90 per cent of the population - as disloyal. I discovered this afternoon that the Prime Minister himself is an honorary Lion. I would think that as an honorary Lion if he really feels that the Lions are disloyal because of their attachment to Australian sentiment I think he would either want to cease to be an honorary Lion or perhaps he would like to participate fully in the spirit of Lionism recant the statement that he made this morning and so stand with other Australian Lions.

At this convention, at which he was present, the Prime Minister was warmly welcomed as the Prime Minister and as the head of the government of this nation and even after this incredible resolution, according to the Prime Minister, was passed he had his picture taken with Lions delegates and stood with them proudly as an honorary Lion.

Mr Barnard - He was not in Tasmania when the motion was moved against him down there.

Mr GRASSBY - Actually I am not sure just where in his capacity as an honorary Lion he roars. He may not have roared in Tasmania but he certainly purred happily at the national Lions conference.

Mr Armitage - He says he is a 'dandy Lion'.

Mr GRASSBY - Well, that is a very interesting observation. I want to draw attention to the fact that as long ago as 1929 the national Rotary convention held that year began with a distinctive national anthem. So, the Rotarians stand wilh the march of national sentiment, and, in fact, did so in 1929, as the Prime Minister will remember. Forty-three years later the nation is still struggling to emerge from its colonial trappings that embarrass us so much at home and abroad. I certainly join with the great majority of Australians and ask Mr Bruce's successor to listen to the voice of the nation on this matter arid to issue immediate instructions that Australian victories at Munich be saluted by a distinctive Australian anthem.

Mr Cope - It's time.

Mr GRASSBY - It is time that we came of age and displayed our modest maturity. I will never apologise - I am sure that you would not do so, Mr Speaker - for either the sentiment or the expression 'Advance Australia Fair'.

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