Statutory Interpretation and Indigenous Property Rights
University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law
March 10, 2011
Public Law Review, Vol. 21, pp. 239-262, 2010
UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2011-19
Four recent decisions concerning a) native title and b) statutory land rights confirm that the approach of the High Court to statutory interpretation has become a focal point in defining the relationship between indigenous peoples and the wider Australian community. These recent decisions and the longer-range judicial development of Australian law on Indigenous property rights raise questions about the consistency with which traditional common law principles of interpretation have been applied. After more than three decades of statutory land rights in the Northern Territory, recent developments suggest a perhaps higher than suspected capacity for Australian law and politics to accommodate strong Aboriginal property rights and decision-making power. This raises questions whether the legal containment of native title by judges and politicians in the aftermath of Mabo (No. 2) was an over-reaction to uncertainty and somewhat of a missed opportunity.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: Australian Law, Aboriginal Property RightsAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 13, 2011 ; Last revised: December 15, 2011
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