Essay about Aboriginal Rights

Submitted By stephanielouise1012
Words: 404
Pages: 2

Eddie Mabo was born on Murray Island, in the Torres Strait, on June 29, 1936. Speaking in 1993, his wife said that Eddie started to question his rights in 1969, when he tried to return to Murray Island to visit his father of his death bed, only to be denied entry by authorities who feared he would cause trouble. He started to work as a gardener when he was 31, and it was here he would have a conversation which would shake his understanding of his people’s land to the core. After having lunch in 1974 with historian Henry Rynolds and Noel Loos, Mabo was shocked when they explained that his people’s traditional ownership of the island was not recognised by Australian law.
The courts worked on the principal that Australia was terra nullius, meaning “land belonging to no one” before European settlement. In 1982, Mabo and four other Torres Strait Islanders started legal action against the State of Queensland to authenticate who owned the island. Queensland’s government was so concerned by the case, it passed laws to cement ownership of the Torres strait islands. Those laws were crushed by the high court in 1988. in 1990, justice martin Moynihan was highly critical of Mabo and rejected his claim to the Murray Island land. He did however conclude that the meriam people lived on the island prior to European settlement. These findings were used in Mabos favour when the case went to the High Court. The decision ended the legal fiction of terrus nullius, and was the first time native title was recognised in…