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Statutory Interpretation and Indigenous Property Rights

Public Law Review, Vol. 21, pp. 239-262, 2010

UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2011-19

24 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2011 Last revised: 15 Dec 2011

Sean Brennan

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 10, 2011

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Australian Law, Aboriginal Property Rights

Suggested Citation

Brennan, Sean, Statutory Interpretation and Indigenous Property Rights (March 10, 2011). Public Law Review, Vol. 21, pp. 239-262, 2010; UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2011-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1782408

Sean Brennan (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, 2052
Australia

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