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“The old Law was not about human rights. It was about unconditional loyalty and obedience … We still respect and honour our ancestors and want to keep our culture. But my people are confused. If they go the blackfella way they break whitefella law, if they go whitefella way they break blackfella law. Our young men are caught in the middle, that’s why they fill up the jails ... We now need to change the letter of our Law to keep its spirit alive. We need to do this ourselves but with the support of governments and our fellow citizens … I don’t agree with everything that Gary Johns says in this book but he is honest and believes in what he says. I am happy to write this foreword and to encourage and praise him for the contribution he is making to the debate we need to have.”
From the foreword by Bess Nungarrayi Price, chairperson of the Northern Territory’s Indigenous Affairs Advisory Council and a member of the Commonwealth Government’s Advisory Group on Violence against Women.
Land rights, welfare and culture have locked aborigines out of the good life. Land has become a burden, welfare has become disabling, bad behaviour is mistaken for culture. There is a way out. Aborigines must abide by the same rules as every other Australian -- seek out opportunities, study hard, and free themselves from a culture of bad behaviour.
This is in contrast to the white man’s dream of Aboriginal self-determination. This grand experiment has failed. Aborigines, especially those in remote Australia, need an exit strategy from the dream. The exit strategy outlined in this book destroys the rallying cry for culture. Instead, it shows that the way to self-determination is through individual dignity.
Gary Johns is an Associate Professor of Public Policy, Public Policy Institute, Australian Catholic University. Gary served in the House of Representatives from 1987-1996 and was Special Minister of State and Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations from 1993-1996. He served as an Associate Commissioner of the Commonwealth Productivity Commission 2002-2004. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) University of Queensland, Master of Arts (Geography) Monash University, and a Bachelor of Economics Monash University. He is President of The Bennelong Society – a Society devoted to a rational explanation of indigenous policy, in particular those challenges in integrating indigenous people into the mainstream economy.