Indigenous Law Bulletin
By Shaunnagh Dorsett and Lee Godden
RRP $20.50, including GST and postage
Reviewed by Larissa Behrendt
In A Guide to Overseas Precedents of Relevance to Native Title, Dorsett and Godden have produced a book that provides a brief survey of the case law and legislative developments in the United States, New Zealand and Canada in relation to the recognition of native title. After a brief historical summary, the book provides an overview of the evolution of the doctrine, including the recognition of off-shore and water rights, extinguishment and regulation of native title, and the jurisprudence concerning compensation and fiduciary obligation, in each jurisdiction. Each chapter concludes with a brief analysis of the ways in which overseas developments differ from Australian approaches (or lack thereof) to the issues.
This work is an excellent first port of call, especially in relation to aspects of native title that remain to be developed or are underdeveloped in Australia, namely, the extension of native title to sea and water rights and the recognition of the Crown’s fiduciary duty to Indigenous peoples. Scholars and practitioners will find this a useful volume for quick, though unsophisticated, references to the relevant overseas precedents. The layout of the book, its lists of references and its notation of the cases relevant to each section also aid in it’s utility for readers.
Some practitioners and researchers may find certain omissions frustrating, for instance, more could have been said in relation to the recognition of hunting and fishing rights. Similarly, the historical background is somewhat spare on detail. Any lack of depth or over-simplification only reflects the book’s ambition, which is to provide a cursory overview of legal developments.
Larissa Behrendt is Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies and Director of Jumbunna CAISER at the University of Technology, Sydney.