...a formidable task...
'Eddie was, in my experience, genuinely concerned to advance the interests of his people in regard to cultural rights and land rights. He struck me as very intelligent. He had an extremely good working knowledge of the way lawyers work, how to bridge that gap between the workings of the Australian legal system and its legal concepts and the workings of the Murray Island traditional system of land tenure and the customs of that community. That was a formidable task, explaining Murray Island to the lawyers, so that the lawyers could explain it to the court. And similarly, he could explain to the witnesses our needs. It must have been very confusing for them for a bunch of white lawyers to come along and ask questions about things which were manifestly obvious to them. Now that facility of Eddie Mabo to put the two cultures together was absolutely crucial. And I think I can confidently say that without him the case would never have happened in a variety of ways.'
Keywords: Keon-Cohen, Bryan, Mabo Case, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Mabo v Queensland No.2, 1982
Interviewed by Trevor Graham, 1996.
© Film Australia
Source: Keon-Cohen, Bryan