Burney: Hundreds of ideas to change anthem

There are “hundreds of ideas” to amend Australia’s national anthem, the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians has said.

Linda Burney, the country’s first Indigenous woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, added she “regularly” receives suggestions from the public.

Despite this, however, she said there should be no rush to alter the anthem and a “national conversation” would need to take place first.

In an exclusive interview with Hatch, Burney said: “The anthem has been amended in the past, it used to be an incredibly sexist anthem and referred to men… not ‘we’ but ‘men’.

“Judith Durham has put out a different version, and there are hundreds of ideas out there. I get them sent to me regularly about changes that should take place.

“I think, for me, the anthem is what it is. Whether I  agree with it or not, in parts, is pretty irrelevant.

“I think that it is beautifully sung in (Aboriginal) language, and I’ve seen that it’s very moving.”

But she added: “The changing of an anthem is a national conversation and I’d be informed by that.”

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Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney. (Photo: Getty Images)

The debate over Australia’s national song was reignited a month ago when three Indigenous rugby league players refused to sing the national anthem during the first game in this year’s State of Origin series.

Their dissent followed a similar stance by American NFL star Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 began kneeling during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, as a protest at racial injustice and police brutality. The controversy prematurely ended his career.

Boxer Anthony Mundine also refused to stand for the national anthem before his fight with Danny Green at the Adelaide Oval in January 2017.

Burney said she was supportive of the actions of Cody Walker, Josh Addo-Carr and Will Chambers during the State of Origin, while playing down the significance of it.

“I very much respected the actions of Walker and the others that didn’t sing the anthem during the State of Origin,” she said.

“But I also know that Cody Walker and the other young men that decided not to sing it made the point they didn’t want it to be a political act. That was the way they were raised and that’s the way they felt.”


DJ Izm supports changing the anthem. (Photo: Devon Christopher Alexander/Flickr)

Yesterday, Aria Award winning artist Tarik Ejjamai also threw his support behind changing the anthem.

Ejjamai, AKA DJ Izm, the man behind the turntables in the Aussie hip-hop trio Bliss n Esso, said: “None of those lyrics represent any indigenous people.

“If you’re going to do an anthem you need to poetically mention the people who have been on the land for a long, long time.”

Last month indigenous rapper/actor Adam Briggs released a comedic video critiquing the anthem almost word for word.

“He had every right to do what he needed to do. I’m all for what he wanted to say,” added Ejjamai.