Mabo v Queensland [Number 1]
In 1985, while the Mabo case was proceeding, the Queensland Government sought to circumvent the issue of whether rights of Indigenous peoples survived colonisation. The Queensland Government introduced the Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act 1985. The Act sought to declare, retrospectively, that the intention of legislation passed in 1879 to bring the Murray Islands within the territories of Queensland was not merely to acquire sovereignty but to extinguish land rights. In the decision in Mabo v Queensland [No.1] (1988), the High Court struck down the legislation because it was inconsistent with section 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act.
The judges assumed for the time being that the kind of rights claimed in the case did in fact exist. Justices Brennan, Toohey and Gaudron said that the state law contravened the Racial Discrimination Act because it, 'impaired their [the Meriam peoples'] human rights while leaving unimpaired the human rights of those whose rights ... did not take their origin from the laws and customs of the Meriam people'.
Keywords: High Court of Australia, Mabo Case, Mabo v Queensland No.1, Queensland, Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act , 1985 , Racial Discrimination Act , 1975 , 1988
Author: Strelein, Lisa