Impact Of The Mabo Decision

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One of the most significant events in Aboriginal peoples struggle for rights in Australia was the Mabo decision in 1992. This event took away the myth of terra nullius from Australian law and would recognise rights that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have to the land and waters according to tradition. Thus, creating way for the legal recognition of native land titles (Loos & Mabo, 2013). This essay will explain the impact of the Mabo decision, what events led to this event and what impact this has on Australian people today.

The Mabo decision was a lengthy legal battle beginning back in 1982. One of the key elements of this was that Terra Nullius land did not belong to anyone during the time of the European Settlement …show more content…

Because of this, Aboriginal people found it difficult to claim ownership of land, as it did not adhere to British regulations. Eddie Mabo and two other members of the Merian people, commenced proceedings in the High Courts in refusing to be denied of their rights for native title and ownership (Crommelin,1993). They wanted declarations of the Murray Islands as, owners, possessors and as occupiers entitled to use and spend time on the islands (Commelin, 1993). Before mabo, earlier leaders of Milirrupum and Yolngu members unsuccessfully petitioned the parliament in Canberra to recognise their land ownership with a lease and project approval in 1965. This case however was rejected against on an eighteenth and nineteenth century treaty of supremacy who had obtained colonies around the globe (Commelin, 1993). It was then that Mabo successfully challenged the idea that Aboriginal properties were incapable of being recognised because of belonging to an inferior …show more content…

The Wik case, which first started in 1992, when the Wik peoples lodged a claim into the judicial system for certain areas of land in Northern Queensland. These claims were related to two pastural lease agreements (Mark & Clifford, 1997). Firstly, over 40% of sacred land was under lease from the government for agricultural development. Secondly, that the land was not being used for pastural purposes (Mark & Clifford, 1997). In June of 1996, there was an appeal to the High Court that was rejected. The High Court said that if native title could survive a grant of pastoral leasing, it would “fracture the skeleton” that gives Australia its land law shape ( Stevenson 1996). Furthermore, ruling that co-existent leasing would be recognised although pastoral lease would prevail (Stevenson, 2014). Additionally, this would also mean that aboriginals who were removed from these areas in the 60’s and 70’s could attempt to claim back their traditional land and that aboriginals who occupied the 42% of land mass would now be recognised as native title (Mark & Clifford, 1997). Although today the Wik decision does provide a challenge for government policy makers, this has provided a catalyst for agriculturalists to pursue the next step in improving tenure from having a leasehold to freehold. This became possible because of the success from the Mabo

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