Changing Bosses. "It's Not the Money, It's the Land: Aboriginal Stockmen and the Equal Wages Case", by Bill Bunbury and "Pila Nguru: The Spinifex People", by Scott Cane and "Blood, Sweat and Welfare: A History of White Bosses and Aboriginal Pastoral Workers", by Mary Anne Jebb. [review]
The pastoral frontier continues to be a site for stories of nation-building. In Mary Anne Jebb’s and Bill Bunbury’s books, the stories are not so much ‘how we got the country started, boots and all and not halfhearted’, but about the limits of liberalism and questions of indigenous rights. Jebb’s nuanced account reminds us that colonial relationships and liberal reforms are dynamic, even revolutionary, in their impact. They force the colonised to experiment, sometimes disastrously, with the accommodations afforded by the changing relationships among colonising authorities. The Spinifex people, discussed in Scott Cane’s book, did not experience pastoral colonialism. Rather, atomic bomb tests in South Australia in the 1950s compelled their temporary move north and west to ration points that offered Christian schooling without changing the ‘economy’ of the Nullarbor Plain. These least-colonised indigenous Australians were among the first to benefit from ‘native title’. Cane’s book is based on the document through which, in 1998, they asserted title.