This is the first comprehensive study of the ways in which Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have been excluded from the rights of Australian citizenship over the past 100 years. Drawing extensively upon archival material, the authors look at how the colonies initiated a policy of exclusion that was then replicated by the Commonwealth and State governments following federation. The book includes careful examination of government policies and practice from the 1880s to the 1990s and argues that Aboriginal people have been central to notions of Australian citizenship by virtue of their exclusion from it. It overturns many assumptions and misunderstandings, arguing that there was never any constitutional reason why Aborigines could not be granted full citizenship. The authors show that citizenship was an empty term used to discriminate systematically against Aboriginal people.
'This is an impressively detailed exposition of the legislative and administrative regimes that excluded indigenous Australians form ellective citizenship ... Chesterman and Galligan (not forgetting Tom Clarke) set out to disclose how Aborigines were rendered citizens without rights; they succeed admirably.' Russell McGregor, Australian Historical Studies