KATE GALLOWAY teaches law at James Cook University.
Justice for the Mithaka people
The Mithaka people of South West Queensland have been successful in their native title application over 55 425 square kilometres in south west Queensland after a 13-year campaign. It is sobering reading in the brief decision of Gorringe on behalf of the Mithaka People v State of Queensland  FCA 1116, highlighting the ‘brutal treatment of Aboriginal men by Europeans’ and the exercise by the Queensland government of ‘extraordinary powers over the living conditions and movement of Aboriginal people’. These powers were in full force until the 1970s. The judgment notes that, ‘The passage of the Native Title Act in 1993 brought a new set of circumstances into being. Whereas for over a century the Aboriginal people of south west Queensland had been physically and legally dispossessed of their land, all of a sudden the government presented the possibility that their traditional rights and interests in their ancestral lands could be legally recognised.’ Hopefully, recommendations of Connection to Country: Review of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (‘ALRC Report 126’) will be implemented, simplifying the native title process for traditional owners.
- Category: DUAO - 2015 - Vol 40(4)