Friday, June 08, 2007

The Pork Pie!

Scarlett's famous pork pie!


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Mabo: 15th anniversary

In the early 1970s, Eddie Koiki Mabo, a Murray islander of the Merriam people in the Torres Strait, was astonished to hear that he and other islanders ‘were technically trespassers who could at any moment be legitimately driven off the Island’. Mabo could not accept that anything ‘as obvious as his property rights’ could be so thoroughly and comprehensively ‘disregarded by the white man’s law’.

Mabo’s determination led to a ten-year legal battle against the Queensland government to reclaim ownership of his property, and that of other Murray Islanders. Mabo’s actions resulted in the High Court of Australia findings in 1992 that native title was not necessarily eroded through European settlement and that terra nullius, the concept of an uninhabited continent, was a legally flawed assumption and had no basis in the determination of Australian land tenure.

While the High Court’s was a high-point for indigenous land rights, others were not so sure. The day after the announcement of the High Court case, John Hewson, then leader of the Liberal Party, promptly declared that the court’s adjudication was ‘a day of shame for the Australian Parliament’ and that there would be people ‘all over Australia who are significantly worse off’.5 The National Party’s Tim Fischer scorned Aborigines stating that they ‘had not even invented the wheel’.

The conservative backlash was harsh, and as Mabo’s legal representative, Bryan Keon-Cohen stated, it was ‘as if the propertied elements of this country believe the High Court was there to protect their rights and deny anyone else’s ability to challenge those rights, even if those rights were founded on a legal fiction’.


Saturday, June 02, 2007