The Mabo Case Study

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When the Europeans first arrived in Australia, Indigenous Australians lost all their land rights. This was mainly due to the Europeans claiming that Australia was Terra nullius. Terra Nullius was a international law stating that if territory was not owned, it was to be given to the first nation to discover it and entitled to take over. The Europeans did not recognise the Aboriginals and Torres Strait islander people as the traditional owners of Australia and therefore took all there land rights. The indigenous people were then constricted by the terra nullius rule from 1788 to 1991. In 1972 the Prime Minister at the time Gough Whitlam began to make laws such as the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 for Indigenous Australians. It introduced the policy of self-determination which significantly increased funding for Aboriginal affairs and created a commission to investigate land…show more content…
Eddie Mabo was a Torres Strait Islander who believed Australian laws and land ownership were wrong and fought to change them. On 20 May 1982, Eddie Mabo, Sam Passi, David Passi, Celuia Mapo Salee and James Rice began their legal claim for ownership of their lands against the Queensland Government. In 1985, while the Mabo case was proceeding, the Queensland Government tried to avoid the issue of whether rights of Indigenous peoples survived colonisation. Due to this the leader of the Queensland Government Joh Bjelke-Petersen decided to introduce the Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act 1985. This Act had claimed to extinguish any rights and interests that the Meriam people may have had before its enactment. However in 1998, the High Court decided by a majority that the Queensland Declatory Act was inconsistent with the Racial Discrimination Act and therefore was

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