Have the Legal Effects of the Mabo Ruling Had a Positive or Negative Effect?

Topics: Indigenous Australians, Australia, Native title Pages: 4 (1611 words) Published: April 20, 2011
A question often Raised in regards to the Mabo case is whether the legal effects of the ruling have had a positive or negative effect on not only the legal system but also society as a whole. The term Mabo refers to all issues relating to the Australian High Court judgement in the Mabo v. Queensland case. On the 3rd of June, 1992, after a decade long lawsuit, the High Court ruled that the land title of the Indigenous Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders is recognised at common law. This Indigenous Peoples land title comes from the continuation within common law of their rights over land which pre dates the European colonisation of Australia. In the absence of an effective extinguishment by the crown, this title presents through heritage the original occupants right to possession of their traditional lands in accordance with their customs. The judgement has, at long last, rejected the "Terra Nullius” bringing Australia in line with remaining common law countries. Eddie Mabo had died of cancer in February 1992 so he was not alive to see the final ruling that would become so historic because it completely overruled the idea of Terra Nullius. Nobody could have predicted the changes it made on Australian land law. The implications of the Mabo case caused contrasting and controversial reactions throughout Australia and its communities. The prime minister at the Time, Paul Keating, declared that his government would make Mabo a historic turning point. Mr. Keating claimed it would be the basis of a new relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Justice Brennan gave controversial statements in court like “the Meriam people are entitled as against the whole world to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the lands of the Murray Islands.” (Justice Brennan 1992) Justice Deane and Gaudron said,

“spread across the continent to dispossess, degrade and devastate the Aboriginal peoples and leave a national legacy of unutterable shame. The acts...
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