Mabo v Queensland (No 2)


Eddie Mabo (1936 – 1993) pictured above, left.

On 3 June, 1992, the High Court of Australia ruled that the doctrine of terra nullius was a legal fiction and that the native people had good title which pre-dated European conquest.

Para 128 of ruling reads:

1. Upon the annexation of the Murray Islands to Queensland, the radical title to all the land in those islands vested in the Crown in right of Queensland.
2. The traditional title of the Meriam people to the Murray Islands, being their rights to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the Islands, survived annexation of the Islands to Queensland and is preserved under the law of Queensland.
3. The traditional title of the Meriam people to the land in the Islands has not been extinguished by subsequent legislation or executive act and may not be extinguished without the payment of compensation or damages to the traditional titleholders of the Islands.
4. The land in the Murray Islands is not Crown land within the meaning of that term in s.5 of the Land Act 1962 (Q.)

Sadly, Eddie Mabo died 5 months before this ruling was made.

The significance of this ruling is outlined in this entry from the Museum of Australian Democracy here.

The ruling from the High Court of Australia can be read here.

A few of us are working on a Land Restitution Act for Scotland.