Proctor : July 2019
36 PROCTOR | July 2019 to traditional owners. Rather it provides legal recognition of rights that the High Court acknowledged were in existence long before European settlement. The Native Title Act protects the rights of traditional owners to use and access ancestral country and to enjoy some control over what happens to land in the future. To bring the story of native title to life, we consulted with a group of three experts who brought their own special insights to the Mabo and Wik cases. • The Honourable Margaret White AO acted as junior counsel for the Queensland Government for the 10 years of litigation in the Mabo case. Her unique perspective and wealth of knowledge of the events proved invaluable as we unpacked the complexities of this landmark constitutional case. • Barrister Joshua Creamer is a proud Wannyi and Kalkadoon man whose practice areas include native title, commercial law, Indigenous law and human rights. NAIDOC Week (7–14 July) is an annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Australia’s First Nation peoples. As curator of the library’s exhibitions, I’d like to mark NAIDOC Week by introducing our free exhibition in Sir Harry Gibbs Legal Heritage Centre. ‘Overturning terra nullius: the story of native title’ explores two cases and some of the people that were particularly influential in shaping native title law reform in Australia: • Mabo v Queensland (No.2)  HCA 23 (Mabo), in which the High Court of Australia recognised the Meriam people’s uninterrupted rights to land, and overturned the doctrine of terra nullius • Wik Peoples v Queensland  HCA 40 (Wik), in which the High Court ruled that native title and pastoral rights could coexist. The exhibition charts the important events and milestones in the history of land rights in Australia. Beginning 60,000 years ago with the first identified Indigenous inhabitation of Australia, through Captain James Cook’s declaration of sovereignty in 1770, to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and its amendment in 1998. The road to recognising native title was long and the two landmark cases of Mabo and Wik did not appear out of nowhere. The exhibition explores the changing social climate in Australia during the 20th Century, which manifested itself in campaigns for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander equality. Momentum increased as attitudes in Australia gradually changed, finding its first legal expression in the 1971 Gove Land Rights Case. ‘Overturning terra nullius: the story of native title’ also explores the political aftermath of the Wik decision, which drew heavy criticism from conservative politicians. Opponents of the decision warned that huge areas of Australia were at risk of native title claims—warnings that were countered as manufactured hysteria and fearmongering. The exhibition emphasises that the Native Title Act does not give land ownership rights • Dr Heron Loban, a senior lecturer at Griffith Law School, is a Torres Strait Islander woman with a keen interest in Indigenous legal issues and many years’ experience in teaching native title law. We thank these experts for their valuable insights and contributions. DELEGATE RATED 2017-2018 4.61 11–12 September Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre PROPERTY LAW CONFERENCE 100+LEGALPROFESSIONALS 15FACE-TO-FACE SESSIONS 20EXPERT PRESENTERS 3HOURS OF NETWORKING 10 CPD Register now qls.com.au/propertylawconf QLS Members save $270 Early-bird closes 15 August Developed in partnership with property and development law experts, this practical two-day conference is perfectedly suited to practitioners of all levels. Delegates will depart armed with leading industry intelligence on a range of topics including: • navigating trust structures in proprety transactions • tax compliance issues for property practitioners • verification of identity in the digital era • an advanced refresher on contingent conditions. YOUR LIBRARY New exhibition: Overturning terra nullius: the story of native title WITH SUPREME COURT LIBRARY QUEENSLAND CURATOR CHARLA STRELAN Overturning terra nullius: the story of native title Sir Harry Gibbs Legal Heritage Centre Ground floor, QEII Courts of Law Weekdays, 8.30am to 4.00pm Free entry sclqld.org.au/native-title Above: Demonstration march at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, 1972. Photograph by Ken Middleton, courtesy of the National Library of Australia. Left: Evidence such as the structure of traditional property boundaries drawn on a map by Eddie Mabo played a key role in the case presented by the plaintiffs. From the papers of Bryan Keon-Cohen, courtesy of the Mabo family and the National Library of Australia.