Aussie PM tunes out call for new anthem

Julia Gillard admits the lyrics of `I Am Australian` had emotional power.

Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard rejected a fresh call to ditch the national anthem, `Advance Australia Fair`, in favour of the more uplifting `I Am Australian`.

Gillard on Friday admitted the lyrics of `I Am Australian`, which trace the country`s historical roots, had emotional power, but said she could not agree with former Victoria state premier Jeff Kennett, who proposed the switch.

"I can understand the emotional resonance of that song. I most recently heard that song on Sunday in Victoria at a bushfire memorial event and it did bring tears to many people`s eyes," she said.

"That is a song of great emotional warmth and attachment for many Australians, but I can`t agree with Jeff that it should substitute for the national anthem."

`Advance Australia Fair`, whose hymn-like words talk of a country "girt by sea", has been hotly debated since being adopted as the national anthem in 1984, with many people favouring familiar Outback ditty `Waltzing Matilda`.

Kennett, writing about Australian multiculturalism, said the words of 1I Am Australian1 contain "the standards by which we all should live and be judged".

"I think it should be our national anthem and, if not, our national hymn," Kennett wrote in the Herald-Sun newspaper.

The song, written by The Seekers in 1987, describes Aboriginal life, the arrival of British convicts and the outlaw Ned Kelly, among other cultural touchstones.

"We are one, we are many/And from all the lands on Earth we come/We share a dream and sing with one voice/I am, you are, we are Australian," goes the chorus.

However, Gillard said she was pleased Kennett had not nominated the theme song of his favourite Australian Rules football club, "We`re a Happy Team at Hawthorn", which contains snatches of "Yankee Doodle Dandy".

"I am at least relieved that he hasn`t suggested the Hawthorn club song," Gillard said.

Bureau Report

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