This song is specifically about the civilising process, about the white man's burden, as it applied to this particular far-flung reach of empire. The advance of the title concerns the progress of civilisation; it assigns to this process a very specific metaphor, that of a military movement. The progress of the white race over the continent is an advance. What appears to be an external motion (promote Australia abroad) belies an internal one: the still ongoing process of conquest and likewise the encouragement to get that done without miscegenation. That Aborigines are given no specific role in this song becomes less mysterious in this light: it is not their country or nationality which is being described here; rather the advance of fair Australia, an advance which takes place at the expense of an unmentioned (unmentionable) non-polity.
1 It first succeeded 'God Save the Queen' in that role in 1974 following a national opinion poll conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the then Labor government. Incoming Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, reinstated 'God Save the Queen' in 1976. 'Advance Australia Fair' was politically corrected (not a phrase in use at the time) when re-instated as national anthem in 1984, with a view to giving the girls a fair go. The original opening line of Peter Dodds McCormick's nineteenth century song was: 'Australian sons let us rejoice/for we are young and free'. The 'correction' of the present version of the song is noteworthy given the emphasis which the song, and particularly the chorus, places on historical consciousness, more specifically on the self-consciousness of an effort at nationhood. 59ce067264