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Mabo v Queensland [No 2] (1992) 175 CLR 1

Category: Case Law
Binomial Name: High Court of Australia
Sub Category:Litigated Determination
Subject Matter:Native Title | Recognition of Native Title or Traditional Ownership | Recognition of Traditional Rights and Interests
Summary Information:
On 3 June 1992 the High Court of Australia delivered its judgment in the case of Mabo v the State of Queensland (No. 2), holding that the common law of Australia recognised native title. The term 'native title' was used by the High Court to recognise that Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders may have existing rights and interests in land and waters according to traditional laws and customs and that these rights are capable of recognition by the common law.

Specifically, the Court recognised a claim by Eddie Mabo and others on behalf of the Meriam people of the Island of Mer in the Murray Islands in the Torres Strait, that the Meriam people owned the land at common law because they were the traditional owners of their country under Islander law and custom.

The Queensland Government had earlier tried to extinguish the Meriam people's property rights under the Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act 1985. However, the High Court ruled in 1988 (Mabo v the State of Queensland (No. 1)), that the Queensland law breached the Commonwealth's Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth).

The Mabo judgment addressed some of the basic premises of the Australian legal system and society. In particular, the decision overturned the concept of terra nullius (a land belonging to no one) on which Australia's whole land tenure system had been based. The High Court recognised that the rights of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders to native title may survive in certain areas and that their native title must be treated fairly before the law with other titles.

Related Entries

  • IBIS/Mer Gedkem le Corporation/Aboriginal and Islander Affairs Corporation Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Mer Reserve Transfer Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Mer (Murray Island) Torres Strait Social Housing Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) #2
  • Organisation
  • State of Queensland - Respondent
  • Indigenous Land Fund
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Fund
  • Mer Gedkem Le (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation
  • High Court of Australia
  • Aboriginal Fisheries Consultative Committees
  • Event
  • Eva Valley Statement
  • Legislation
  • Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act 1985 (Qld)
  • Native Title Amendment Act 1998 (Cth)
  • People
  • Meriam People - Native Title Claimant
  • Eddie Koiki Mabo - Native Title Claimant
  • Case Law
  • Western Australia v Ward (2002) 191 ALR 1 (8 August 2002)
  • Mabo v Queensland 166 CLR 186 (8 December 1988)
  • Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd (1971) 17 FLR 141
  • Alexkor Limited v The Richtersveld Community and Others Case CCT19/03
  • Bodney v Bennell [2008] FCAFC 63
  • Akiba on behalf of the Torres Strait Regional Seas Claim Group v Commonwealth of Australia (2013) HCA 33

  • References

    Case Law
    High Court of Australia (1989) MABO and ANOTHER v. THE STATE OF QUEENSLAND and ANOTHER (1989) 166 CLR 186
    High Court of Australia (1992) MABO AND OTHERS v. QUEENSLAND (No. 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1


    Mabo v Queensland [No 2] (1992) 175 CLR 1 Map - ( Image | PDF | Thumbnail)


    Native Title (Australia)

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