Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Marking two decades of land rights and progress for Indigenous Australians

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Nicola Roxon MP
    Minister for Emergency Management

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin today marked the 20th anniversary of the historic High Court Mabo native title decision.

“The Mabo decision marked a turning point for reconciliation in Australia,” Ms Roxon said.

“The decision was a significant step forward in truly recognising the proud history of the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures on our planet.

“The Native Title Act legislatively validated and built upon the Mabo decision by providing a pathway for recognising native title as well as providing certainty to other land users.”

Minister Macklin said the actions of Eddie Mabo and his co-applicants changed Australia.

“The Mabo decision allowed us to see beyond the falsehood of terra nullius and to the future,” Ms Macklin said.

The Government’s vision for the native title system is for faster, better outcomes with a focus on economic development for Indigenous communities and sustainable agreement making.

Recently announced reforms to the system will see claims mediation moving from the National Native Title Tribunal to the Federal Court.

This initiative builds on the Government’s 2009 reforms, which gave the Federal Court greater control of native title mediation and saw the number of consent determinations more than double, rising from just 11 in 2008-2009, the last full year before the Government’s reforms came into effect, to 24 in 2010-11.

“The 20th anniversary is a timely reminder for everyone to reflect on how far the native title system has come and the significance native title continues to hold for Indigenous and other Australians,” Ms Roxon said.

“I look forward to faster and better outcomes for the native title system in the future.”

Minister Macklin said native title provides an opportunity to deliver real and lasting benefits for Indigenous people.

“Native title leaders, Governments, and industry now all have a role in ensuring the Mabo legacy delivers economic, social and cultural opportunities for Indigenous Australians,” Ms Macklin said.

“20 years on from the historic achievement of Eddie Mabo and the people who fought for recognition of their land, we all need to continue to work to deliver on the promise of that decision.”