UQ marks 20th anniversary of Mabo via a podcast
|From left: Les Malezer, Kevin Smith and Margaret Stephenson|
Top Australian legal views, heard at the University of Queensland’s 20th anniversary of Eddie Mabo’s native title victory, are now available as an online audio recording.
UQ’s Law School marked the anniversary with a roundtable of six experts including former High Court Justice Michael Kirby, on 31 May in Brisbane.
Paul Barclay of ABC program Big Ideas, facilitated the roundtable discussion as experts reflected on this historical event 20 years ago when terra nullius was laid to rest.
Justice Kirby said that the 1992 High Court decision was a courageous move that changed Australia and shocked the legal fraternity.
Also speaking on the panel, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Les Malezer, said more work needed to be done to overcome problems with native title including “burden of proof”.
|From left: Jonathan Fulcher and Graeme Neate|
“The onus of proof has to be reversed; it’s got to be upon the government and the people of Australia to prove that they have taken native title away from Aboriginal people, and where they have taken it away to pay compensation,” he said.
Speaking about the future, Mr Malezer said it was vital to consider the issues from different perspectives.
“I’m hoping there will be more debate like the debate we’ve had today so that the public will pay attention and learn,” he said.
“What’s most important is that the politicians and the judiciary learn and make themselves aware; look to making the right decisions, particularly taking experiences from overseas and from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people themselves; not just to rely on the black letter of the law and trying to interpret that.”
UQ Law School academic and editor of Mabo: A Judicial Revolution, Margaret Stephenson, said Australia could learn from Canadian legal structures around native title that had proven effective.
An audio recording of the roundtable is available online here
|From left: Jonathan-Fulcher, Graeme-Neate, Justice Kirby and Paul Barclay|
Background to the Mabo decision:
In May 1982, Eddie Mabo and four other Meriam people of the Murray Islands in the Torres Straight sought confirmation of their traditional land rights. In June, the High Court, by a majority of six to one, upheld the claim.
The Mabo decision is believed to be the first recognition of native title in Australian common law that denied “total sovereignty of the crown” or the concept the land was unoccupied previously unoccupied (“terra nullius”). The Native Title Act 1993 is part of the response to the decision.
- The Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG - former Justice of the High Court of Australia
- Les Malezer - Co-Chair, National Congress of Australia's First Peoples
- Kevin Smith – CEO Queensland South Native Title Services
- Graeme Neate - President, National Native Title Tribunal
- Jonathan Fulcher – Native Title, Resources and Energy Partner, HopgoodGanim Lawyers
- Margaret Stephenson - UQ Law School academic and editor of ‘Mabo: A Judicial Revolution’
Margaret Stephenson, TC Beirne School of Law 07 3365 8518, firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa Reynolds, TC Beirne School of Law 07 3365 2523, email@example.com