'Dirge' overwhelms the jolly swagman

The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 August 1996, p.3.

No matter how "dirge-like" and lacking in "sacred" qualities it may be to the Premier, Advance Australia Fair will take a power of shifting by those in favour of installing Waltzing Matilda as the national anthem, according to a Herald AGB McNair poll.

The national survey of 1004 people found that 73 per cent of respondents favoured Advance Australia Fair, with Walking Matilda the choice of 16 per cent. Telling for the Premier - who said last week there was nothing "sacred" about Advance Australia Fair – was the finding that support for his preference, Waltzing Matilda, was lowest in his home State. Just 11 per cent of NSW respondents embraced the jolly swagman. Advance Australia Fair was supported by 75 per cent of NSW respondents.

The poll also showed that the young and the old saw eye to eye on the anthem: just 9 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 9 per cent of over-65s wanted Waltzing Matilda as the anthem, the lowest rating of the age groups. Support for Waltzing Matilda was highest in Western Australia (24 per cent) and among 35- to 44-year-olds (23 per cent), while Tasmania (84 per cent) was the strongest behind Advance Australia Fair.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Mr Carr said of the survey findings: "The Premier was expressing his personal preference and any discussion was and is valid." But the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Collins, said: "It goes to show that on this issue, like so many others, Bob Carr was out of touch with what the community wanted. Waltzing Matilda will always be part of our heritage, but it does not cut the mustard as a national anthem."

About the Poll

17-18 August 1996
About 3%
"Which would you prefer to be the Australian National Anthem: Advance Australia Fair or Waltzing Matilda?"

  73% 69% 76% 80% 72% 67% 78% 75%

  16% 18% 15% 9% 17% 22% 13% 11%

  6% 6% 5% 3% 6% 7% 6% 3%

  5% 7% 4% 8% 7% 5% 4% 10%

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