NSW premier backs anthem lyric change

·2-min read

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she feels for Indigenous Australians who say the national anthem doesn't reflect them and their history and it's time to make "a small gesture" and change some lyrics.

"I think it's about time we recognise the tens of thousands of years of the First Nations people of this continent," she told ABC TV on Wednesday.

"Unity is so important."

She is backing the campaign to change the opening lines of Advance Australian Fair from "we are young and free" to "we are one and free".

"Recognising all of our key parts of our society is critical ... and I think if we say, 'we're one and free', it acknowledges that we're not really young as a continent. We're tens of thousands of years old when it comes to human inhabitants," Ms Berejiklian said.

"Respect is important. Inclusiveness is important."

The change would reflect that Australia has the longest-living culture on our continent through the Indigenous Australians.

"And I think it's about time that we start recognising that in all of our national symbols and all of our national ways in which we represent ourselves," she said.

Northern Territory Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy welcomed Ms Berejiklian's stance, saying it was the beginning of an important discussion.

"It is about change and it is about an opportunity for our country to recreate and walk together as First Nations people and non-Indigenous Australians," she told Nine's Today program.

But Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan said the proposed change "unfairly seeks to tarnish our ancestors".

"Our country and our nation is not just about the people who live today. It is also recognising that we benefit from the sacrifices and efforts of others in the past. Now, I don't think the writers of this anthem when they say 'young' are intending any kind of offence here.

"We are a young nation. We have old civilisations and we have a rich history over tens of thousands of years. But we are a young country," he told Nine.