Australian Politics 2021-11-29 08:15:00


New words for "Advance Australia Fair"?

The proposed second verse is a rather clumsy reference to Aborigines so is hardly appropriate for general use. The proposed third verse, by contrast, refers to common Australian phenomena so is reasonably appropriate.

The real issue is why one population group is being singled out in what is supposed to be a NATIONAL anthem. Rather confused thinking.

There is also a Christian verse to the anthem that is widely sung in church circles. Christians so far have been content to use the verse only on their own occasions but if we are going to recognize special groups, the Christian version should also be recognized. There are more Christians than Aborigines

The Australian national anthem could be rewritten under proposed changes to make the words better reflect indigenous history.

Non- profit group Recognition in Anthem is pushing for a new second verse to Advance Australia Fair titled 'Our People' and a third verse 'Our Values'.

The group already had one victory when Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a one-word change from January 1 this year that altered the line 'we are young and free' to 'we are one and free'.

Cathy Freeman - who carried both the Australian and Aboriginal flags during her Sydney Olympics gold medal lap of honour in 2000 - is backing the move.

Her support was instrumental in the one word change - with Mr Morrison personally calling her to let her know - but now she wants to 'finish the job'.

The revised anthem has already been sung at high profile events including most recently at the Sydney Opera House during National Reconciliation Week in May 2021, attended by Ms Bulger.

She said the change to the lyrics made on New Year's Eve was a small step and the new verses 'would mean that we could truly celebrate our anthem because it would include us, the First Nations people, and the special places that are around Australia'.

Advance Australia Fair was chosen as the de facto national anthem in a 1977 plebiscite by just over 8.4 million voters who picked the song over God Save the Queen, Waltzing Matilda and Song of Australia.

It was officially adopted as the national anthem on April 19, 1984 on the recommendation of the federal government.

The song was composed by the Scottish-born Peter Dodds McCormick, first performed in 1878 and was sung in Australia as a patriotic song.


Verse 2 - Our People

For sixty thousand years and more

First peoples of this land

Sustained by Country, Dreaming told

By song and artist's hand.

Unite our cultures from afar

In peace with those first here

To walk together on this soil

Respect for all grows there.

From everywhere on Earth we sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Verse 3 - Our Values

In times of drought and flood and fire

When all but hope is gone

Australians join with helping hands

And wattle blooms again.

Tomorrow may this timeless land

Live for our young to share

From red-rock heart to sun-filled shore

Our country free and fair.

Beneath the Southern Cross we sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath the Southern Cross we sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Christian verse:

With Christ our head and cornerstone,
We’ll build our nation’s might,
Whose way and truth and light alone,
Can guide our path aright.
Our lives, a sacrifice of love,
Reflect our Master’s care.
With faces turned to heaven above,
Advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.


Premier vows NSW WON'T go back into lockdown and will remain open to the world despite global fears over new Omicron Covid variant

Premier Dominic Perrottet has vowed NSW will stay open and forge ahead with its Covid roadmap despite fears about the Omicron variant.

NSW Health confirmed on Sunday urgent genomic testing found two travellers who touched down in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday night have the new strain.

The latest virus mutation, first detected in South Africa, sparked concerns around the globe amid fears it is more transmissible than world's most contagious and dominant strain, Delta.

But Mr Perrotet said Omicron could be contained and the state's timeline of lifting restrictions at 95 per cent vaccination or on December 15 was on track.

He said 'for the moment' he intended to stick with the state's plan as NSW could not be a 'hermit kingdom on the other side of the world'.

'Ultimately, we not only need to learn to live alongside the virus, but live alongside the variants as well,' he said.

'This pandemic is not over. These variants will continue, cases will continue to rise and the best thing we can do to keep the community safe, keep your family safe is to go out and get vaccinated and get that booster shot when you can.'

Experts say mask wearing, social distancing and better ventilation will help prevent all variants of Covid-19, including Omicron

Mr Perrotet said it was inevitable that Omicron would seep onto our shores. 'If you look at Delta… how quickly that come into countries around the world, the prime minister cancelled flights into here,' he said.

'The reality is these variants are highly transmissible and that means it is almost certain it will get into countries around the world. That is the reality of the situation.

'We can’t look at the world as we want it to be, we need to look at the situation as it is.'


‘Vandals’: Victoria, Queensland fume over federal climate intervention

The Morrison government has used sweeping new powers to override state and territory government support for an international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The federal government has deployed recently passed laws to overturn the participation of five states and territories in the global Under 2 Coalition.

In an email dated 23 November, an official with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told his counterpart in the Victorian government that its participation in the coalition was “no longer in operation”.

The email warned the Victorian government that under the new Foreign Relations (States and Territories) Act 2020, sign up to the agreement was now illegitimate.

The email said Victoria had 14 days to tell the global organisation it had “failed to properly classify” the state’s involvement in a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding.

Two-hundred-and-sixty sub-national governments worldwide have signed up to the the Under 2 coalition, representing 1.75 billion people and 50% of the global economy. Members commit to keeping global temperature rises to well below 2C, with efforts to reach 1.5C. Thirty-five states and regions in the coalition have committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

“[T]he MOU has also been invalidated for a number of other states and territories,” the official said, naming the ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia. He did not cite NSW, which has lately signed up.

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s energy, environment and climate change minister, said Dfat had used a technicality that was “illogical” to cancel her state’s participation.

“It’s just a really ridiculous technicality,” D’Ambrosio said. “It’s egregious. They are vandals.”

The move came less than a fortnight after the Glasgow climate summit ended. The Morrison government had weathered extensive criticism at the event for being among the few rich nations to avoid raising their 2030 emission reduction targets.

“This is going to be a global embarrassment, not for the Victorian government but the federal government that has already covered itself in ridicule on the climate change stage,” D’Ambrosio said. “Rather than addressing the urgency of climate change, they are actually putting forward more barriers.”

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the Under 2 Coalition MOU had not come to the minister for a decision.

“The MOU was not properly notified by the relevant states and territory under the Foreign Relations Act 2020 and was therefore automatically invalidated by operation of the Act,” the spokesperson said.

Dfat was also approached for comment, as was energy minister Angus Taylor.

The Dfat official suggested in the email if Victoria wanted to sign up to the Under 2 coalition’s 2021 MOU, his department would consider approving it. He also said Victoria should join with other jurisdictions to make a single submission.

“Under what conditions would they be prepared to consider an application?” D’Ambrosio said. “Are they saying that if there’s one or two states that maybe hadn’t wanted to pursue it or have delayed it, then everyone else will be held up?”

Meaghan Scanlon, Queensland’s minister for the environment and the Great Barrier Reef, said her state had also received the cancellation advice.

“Clearly, the Morrison government aren’t content with their own failures on climate change, they’re now trying to stop the states from taking action.” she said.

“Surely their time would be better spent funding renewable energy projects or delivering a credible policy on reducing emissions, than on playing silly bureaucratic games,” Scanlon said.


Another 10 million students under education growth plan

Australia should shake up its $40 billion international student sector to shift the focus to teaching online and offshore, the government says, arguing that an extra 10 million students could benefit from an Australian education over the next 20 years.

In its new 10-year international education strategy, the government says Australia should look to Britain which in 2019 taught 407,000 students in offshore arrangements, compared to 117,000 – or 22 per cent – by Australian education providers.

The new strategy says Australia must diversify where students come from and what and where they study. Louie Douvis

Experts, however, say the prospect of living and working in Australia is a strong drawcard for students.

“We know that the vast majority of international students still want to study onshore in Australia for a significant proportion of their studies,” said Jake Foster, chief commercial officer with education consultancy AECC Global.

“The government is actively encouraging and supporting students to start their studies offshore, which could help grow the Australian international education sector in the years ahead.”

The international education strategy for 2021-2030 also says Australia must diversify the number of countries from which students are sourced and diversify the courses in which they study.

While China and India are the highest source countries for all major international education destinations, Australia has the highest concentration of them, with 58 per cent of students arriving from those two countries. That is compared to 50 per cent for the US and Canada and 36 per cent for Britain.

The strategy argues that study for an Australian qualification and the right to live and work in Australia for a time following graduation should be linked as a means of driving skilled workers into the economy.

Alignment with skills priorities

The strategy notes that almost half of all international students who study in Australia are enrolled in business and management courses, but there would be greater benefit for the country if they were to graduate in priority skills areas such as computing.

“Better aligning program choices with priority employment fields will delivery more job-ready graduates in the disciplines and regions where they are most needed,” the strategy reads.

The strategy argues that the diversification of source countries and study areas will improve the educational experience for international and domestic students.

Brett Blacker, chief executive of English Australia, which represents the country’s English language, or ELICOS, colleges, said teaching students online and offshore required a trade-off with the soft diplomacy and flow-on economic benefits of teaching students onshore.

“But that doesn’t mean they have to be mutually exclusive. We can build some pipelines through students doing some of their program offshore and then coming to Australia,” Mr Blacker said.

Vicki Thomson, chief executive of the Group of Eight, said concentration of Chinese students in the group’s universities was higher still at 68 per cent, with just 5 per cent from India.

Students, skilled migrants are next priority entrants
“Clearly, diversifying into alternative markets is going to take time,” Ms Thomson said.

She also said most international students in Go8 universities were postgraduates in fields such as engineering and science.

“These are precisely the skills that we need to address our current skill shortages and research demands,” she said.

Over the past two years, the number of international students enrolled in Australian institutions has dropped by 150,000. The sector was valued at $40 billion to the economy in 2019 and is expected to be worth half that by the end of the year.