Both Keating’s and Rudd’s speeches are firmly based on the ideas of recognition and reconciliation for the wrongs that European settlers, and their decedents, have inflicted on Indigenous Australians. To explore this idea I believe that it is necessary to take a closer look at both the plight of Eddie Mabo and the stories of the Stolen Generation.
The Mabo Case
Eddie Mabo is widely known for his plight to regain land rights for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In 1982, along with four other Meriam people from Murray Island, he initiated legal proceedings in the Queensland Supreme Court claiming customary ownership of their lands on Murray Island. This original claim was rejected by the Supreme Court, but rather than backing down Mabo chose to present his case to the High Court of Australia. The basis of his case explores how “’Australia’ is morally illegitimate to the extent that it is founded on European denial of the continent’s prior ownership by indigenous people…” (Rowse, 1994)
His claim presented that a portion of the Murray Island belonged to his family, as it had been passed down through the generations. These areas had been removed from Indigenous control during the annexation of the Torres Strait in 1879 and Mabo believed that his customary ownership had not been lawfully extinguished (Rowse, 1994). The ownership of land by the indigenous people of Australia was simply washed over with the label of Terra Nullius.
The term Terra Nullius causes a lot of pain for Indigenous people as it can be translated to “A land that belongs to no-one” (“Terra Nullius defined,” 2013). This simply means that the British settlers completely disregard...
... middle of paper ...
Manne, R. (2001). In Denial: The stolen generations and the right. The Australian
Quarterly Essay, 2001(1), p25.
National Sorry Day Committee Inc. (2014). The Apology to Australia’s Indigenous
Peoples. Retrieved from: https://www.nsdc.org.au/events-info/the-apology-to-australias-indigenous-peoples
Rowse, T. (1994). After Mabo. Interpreting indigenous traditions. Carlton, Victoria:
Melbourne University Press.
Terra Nullius defined (2013). Retrieved from
The Mabo case and the native title act (1995). Retrieved from
The Mabo decision in the High Court (2014). Retrieved from
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