Indigenous Law Bulletin
Compiled by: Derek. Hand, Rachel Connell, Joanna Kwan, Michelle Fernando, Gus Bernardi and Melanie Curtin
Aboriginal activist Murrandoo Yanner was granted, leave by the High, Court to appeal his conviction for killing and eating two crocodiles. See 405) ILB (1998):20, The High Court's decision will clarify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people's rights to hunt and fish traditionally, under native: tide legislation: where those rights clash with conservation legislation.
Aboriginal opponents of the Jabiluka uranium mine inside Kakadu National Park suffered a legal setback when the High Court refused to grant the senior traditional owner for the area, Yvonne Margarula, leave to appeal against a Federal Court decision upholding the validity of the mining lease.
As part of its Forests and National Parks, Estates Bill 1998, the NSW Government agreed to negotiate Indigenous Land Use Agreements with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council recognising native title rights in the national parks and wilderness areas to be created under the Bill.
WA Police Minister, Kevin Prince, said Aboriginal women were 45 times more likely to be victims of domestic violence than non-Indigenous women. Superintendent Colin Dillon, the highest ranking-Aboriginal police officer in Australia, said Aboriginal people should never let traditional culture be used as a justification for family violence.
The Miriuwung and Gajerrong people were successful in their native title claim before Justice Lee of the Federal Court over 70,500 sq km of the mineral-rich East Kimberley. The State of Western Australia lodged an appeal against the decision on 15 December.
The First National Symposium for Indigenous Postgraduate students was held in Canberra. Proceedings can be accessed via the internet at http:// ww.ion.unisa.edu.au/conferences/nipa.
Aboriginal people who lost their lives in massacres during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were honoured at a ceremony on the side of Mount Ainslie behind the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
The special UN delegation to Kakadu presented a report to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee recommending that the be shut down on the grounds that the Jabiluka mine endangered both the Kakadu environment and the culture of the Mirrar traditional owners.
The Queensland Government announced it had lost patience with Aboriginal opponents of the $1 billion Century Zinc Mining Project and would compulsorily acquire native title rights to a 160 kilometre strip of land in the state's north west. Hindmarsh Island developers; Tom and Wendy Chapman were awarded $11:1,000 after a South Australian District Court Judge found they have .been `grossly' defamed by an article in Green Left Weekly. The article quoted anthropologist Dr Neil Draper's comments on the way in which the Chapmans' had sought development approval for the Hindmarsh Island Bridge.
The Prime Minister, John Howard, has agreed to a declaration which will acknowledge Aborigines' prior, occupation of the land, past injustices and present disadvantages by May 2000.
Murrandoo Yanner, chairperson of the Carpentaria Land Council, and Charles Perkins called for a multi-racial boycott of the Sydney Olympics unless the Howard Government first addressed the issues of reconciliation and an apology to thee stolen generations.
The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre celebrated its 25th anniversary with over 350 people taking part in a march from the Centre to Parliament House
The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal overturned the conviction of a company by the NSW Land and Environment Court under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NSW) which destroyed Aboriginal relics with a bulldozer. The Court ruled that since the director of Histollo Pry Ltd had not been aware of the presence of Aboriginal relics at the site, he thus could not be convicted. See 4 (16) ILB (1998):18.
Protests were held in schools across the Northern Territory in opposition to Northern Territory government plans to end bilingual programmes which have allowed Indigenous children to learn first in their own language and then in English.
Justice Olney of the Federal Court handed down his decision in the Yorta Yorta native title claim. Olney found that the claimants could not establish a continuing connection to the land and thus could not demonstrate native title rights to the claim area on the border of "Victoria and New South Wales. The claimants lodged an appeal to the Full Federal. Court on 28 January 1999.
The ACT Magistrates Court rejected an attempt by four Aboriginal applicants to have John Howard, Tim Fischer, Brim Harradine and Pauline Hanson arrested on the grounds that their introduction and support for the Howard Government's 10-point plan amounted to genocide.
At the end of his term as the first President of the National Native Title Tribunal, Justice Robert French accused critics of native title and the NNTT of promoting anxiety and confusion. He has been succeeded by Graeme Neate, the former Chairperson of the Queensland Land Tribunals.