...Plots, Subplots and Counterplots...
'Although the initial response to the lodgement of the Murray Islanders' claim was one of total silence, the years following 1982 saw an evolving drama, with plots, subplots and counterplot. In response to the issuing of the summons by Queensland to strike out the plaintiffs' claim, on 16 August 1982, J Killoran, permanent head of the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement, issued an affidavit, or sworn statement, for the first defendant (Queensland) together with 25 annexures marked 'A' to 'Y'. It challenged the extent to which the Meriam had continuously and to the exclusion of all others used and enjoyed the islands referred to. It cited two instances of intrusion and implied a third one. The first referred to the London Missionary Society taking up residence at Mer, leasing land from the owners, establishing the 'Papuan Industrial School and teachers Seminary' there and, by their presence, altering the 'former modes of life on the Murray islands.' Specifically, it claimed that the rapid conversion of Murray Islanders to Christianity signified their rejection of their old beliefs and practices. A second intrusion was made by the South Sea Islanders, who engaged in fishing in the area and many of whom took up residence for a time on the Murray Islands. The third concerned the arrival of the Queensland government administration and its influence on the Murray Islanders. On 1 October 1885, the government resident reported the 'taming' of the islanders: 'Dangerous and savage as the people of these Islands were, they are now perfectly harmless and friendly.'
The Murray Islanders amended statement of claim, issued on 13 September 1982, took up some of the questions raised in P J Killoran's affidavit.'
Keywords: claim, Killoran, Patrick, London Missionary Society, Meriam Mer, No Ordinary Judgement, plaintiffs, religion, 1982
Sharp, Nonie 1996, 'No Ordinary Judgement', Aboriginal Studies Press, pp 30-31.
Author: Kenna, Jonathan